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St. Patrick's Day Parade Route, History, & Trivia

St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City 
St. Patrick's Day is one of New York City's most festive and celebrated holidays!
The St. Patrick's Day Parade is held every March 17th, except when March 17th falls on a Sunday, and it is celebrated the day before (Saturday the 16th), due to religious observances.
 
St. Patrick's Day Parade NYCSt. Patrick's Day Parade Route
The Parade starts at 11am at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue, marches up Fifth Avenue past St. Patrick's Cathedral at 50th Street, continuing north up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and American Irish Historical Society, ending at 86th Street and Fifth Avenue at approximately 4:30-5pm.
 
Best St. Patrick's Day Parade Viewing Spots
The best viewing spots are north of 66th Street and Fifth Avenue, toward the end of the parade route, and away from the shopping and midtown office crowds that fill the sidewalks below 59th Street.
The upper steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street) provide a wonderful view of the Parade's festivities. Spectators can catch a close-up view of the marchers where the parade ends on 86th Street.


St. Patrick's Day Parade History and Trivia
Enjoy these fun tidbits about NYC's St. Patrick's Day Parade, as well as some history of the holiday, that you can share over a green beer, a green bagel, or some corned beef and cabbage:
 
St.
        Patrick's Day Parade in New York City
New York City's St. Patrick’s Day parade is the world’s largest, with 150,000-250,000 marchers and over two million spectators. 
St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York
        City The 2002 Parade in New York City (the first St. Patrick's Day following 9/11) was the largest St. Patrick's Day Parade to date with an estimated 300,000 marchers and three million spectators lining Fifth Avenue. The parade honored the police, fire, and rescue workers. At midday, the one and a half mile long parade paused for two minutes of silence, turned around, and faced south towards the Twin Towers, as Edward Cardinal  Egan said a prayer for all the victims of 9/11. This was the first time in history that the President of Ireland (Mary Mc Aleese) reviewed the Parade.
St. Patrick's Day
        Parade in New York
        City To this day, NYC's St. Patrick's Day Parade remains true to its roots as a true marchers parade by not allowing floats, automobiles and other commercial aspects in the Parade.
St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City
The first St. Patrick's Day celebration in NYC was held at the Crown and Thistle Tavern, near Wall Street, in 1756. The first parade for the holiday was held on lower Broadway in 1762 by a group of homesick Irish military recruited to serve with the British Army.
St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City At the time, wearing green, the color associated with Irish pride, was banned in Ireland, thus the parade participants were overjoyed to flaunt this color, speak Irish, and be merry.
St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City
For the first few years, the parade was organized by military units and after the war of 1812, the Irish fraternal and beneficial societies began sponsoring the event. Restrictions on Irish emigration were lifted and by 1835 more than 30,000 Irish were arriving in New York annually. As the Irish-American population grew, so did St. Patrick’s Day festivities. The size of the parade increased dramatically from 1851, when the individual societies merged under a single grand marshal. This period also marked the peak of Irish emigration to the U.S–approximately 1,600,000 Irish came between 1847 and 1854, fleeing Ireland after nearly one million Irish died of starvation and disease resulting from the Great Potato Famine. 
St. Patrick's Day Parade
        in New York City In 2005, NYC parade officials banned a 31-year tradition of firefighters wearing green berets instead of their regulation blue caps to the parade, a custom that began when the mother-in-law of a Bronx firefighter knitted dozens of green caps for the holiday. The firefighters responded to the ban by wearing civilian clothes with the green berets instead of their uniforms.
St. Patrick's Day Parade
        in New York City According to the 2009 U.S. census, there are approximately 37 million U.S. residents claiming Irish ancestry (12% of the nation as a whole, and almost nine times the entire population of Ireland). Irish is the nation’s second most frequently reported ancestry, after German.
St. Patrick's Day Parade
        in New York City There are 11 towns or cities in the U.S. that share the name of Ireland’s capital, including Dublin, California; Dublin, Mississippi; and Dublin, Texas; and five places named Shamrock: Shamrock Lakes, Indiana; Shamrock, Minnesota; Shamrock, Oklahoma; Shamrock, Texas; and Mount Gay-Shamrock, West Virginia.
St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City St. Patrick was not actually named Patrick, nor is he Irish. He was born Maewyn Succat most likely in Wales (his birthplace is debated), but possibly Scotland or France. He was ordained with the name Patricius in a French monastery.
St. Patrick's Day Parade
        in New York City The reason the shamrock is so prevalent in Irish lore is that St. Patrick used it to symbolize the Holy Trinity - one part per leaf.
St. Patrick's Day Parade
        in New York City St. Patrick also created the Celtic cross. He superimposed the sun, a powerful pagan Irish icon, onto the Christian cross, so that it would be a more natural and fluid symbol of reverence for the Pagans he was trying to convert.
St. Patrick's Day Parade
        in New York City According to biologists, St. Patrick couldn’t have driven the snakes out of Ireland, as there were no snakes there at the time. Since snakes are a common pagan symbol, this legend is widely accepted to be a metaphor for his destruction of pagan ideology, as within two hundred years of his arrival, Ireland was entirely Christian.
St. Patrick's Day Parade
        in New York City In 2001, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Dublin were canceled for fear of spreading foot-and-mouth disease. The holiday was later celebrated on May 21, 2001.
St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day was, remarkably, an alcohol-free holiday until the mid-1970’s. Pubs would close for the day, and it is said that the only place one could drink that day was at the Irish Kennel Club’s St Patrick’s Day Championship Dog Show in Dublin.
St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City
Each St. Patrick’s Day, the Chicago River is dyed green. The tradition started in 1962, when city pollution-control workers used dyes to trace illegal sewage discharges, and realized that the green dye was a distinct way to celebrate the holiday. That year, they released 100 pounds of green dye into the river, enough to keep it green for a week. Today, only forty pounds of dye are used, making the river green for several hours. The dye is vegetable-based, and has been deemed harmless by the FDA.
St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City If St. Patrick’s Day, a day of feasting, falls on a Friday during Lent, when Catholics are supposed to abstain from eating meat, Irish revelers are left with a conundrum regarding the eating of corned beef and cabbage. In 2000, when St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Friday, the Archdiocese of New York issued a special dispensation allowing its 2.5 million Catholics, who live in Manhattan, Bronx, Staten Island and several upstate counties, to eat meat on St. Patrick’s Day. A dispensation was also granted in Newark, but not in Brooklyn, Queens or on Long Island. The head of the Brooklyn diocese, which includes Queens, said that if someone felt compelled to eat meat on St. Patrick’s Day, he or she should perform another act of penance instead.
St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City
According to Hallmark research, Americans exchange about nine million St. Patrick’s Day cards annually, making it the eighth-largest card-sending occasion in the U.S. (Christmas is number one, at 2.2 billion cards). St. Patrick’s Day card sales are highest in - no surprise - New York City.
St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City In 1970, McDonald’s began offering the deliciously minty Shamrock Shakes. To mark the seasonal appearance of the Shamrock Shake, McDonald’s introduced Uncle O’Grimacey, who was said to be Grimace’s Irish uncle. To differentiate the two, Uncle O’Grimacey was green instead of purple, and wore a green top hat and a vest covered in shamrocks. Uncle O’Grimacey is no longer used in McDonald’s ad campaigns.
St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City Per pint, Guinness Draught has about 196 calories - fewer calories than one pint of low fat milk or orange juice. Guinness Draught actually has fewer calories than most other premium beers and lagers, and a lower alcohol percentage than Budweiser.
St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City
According to 2012 statistics from the U.S. Beer Institute, Americans consume 28.2 gallons of beer per capita annually. The heaviest drinkers are in North Dakota (45.8 gallons per capita), while the lightest drinkers are in Utah (20.2 gallons per capita), Connecticut (22.1 gallons per capita), and New York and New Jersey (22.4 gallons per capita, annually).

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