The New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade is one of NYC's greatest traditions, marching for the first time on March 17, 1762 - fourteen years before the Declaration of Independence was adopted. Come on out this Saturday and enjoy the tradition, the bands, and the excitement of the largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the world!
With this year's St. Patrick's Day falling on a Sunday, the 255th annual parade will be held on Saturday, March 16th. This follows tradition and allows for participants and spectators to attend church.
The first St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York was held on lower Broadway in 1762 by a band of homesick Irish ex-patriots and Irish military who served with the British Army stationed in the American colonies. This was a time when the wearing of green was a sign of Irish pride and was banned in Ireland. The parade participants reveled in the freedom to speak Irish, wear the green, sing Irish songs and play the pipes to Irish tunes that were very meaningful to the Irish immigrants who had fled their homeland.
For the first few years, the parade was organized by military units. After the War of 1812, the Irish fraternal and beneficial societies took over the duties of hosting and sponsoring the event. Originally, the Irish societies joined together at their respective meeting places and moved in a procession toward Old St. Patrick's Cathedral in Lower Manhattan on Mott & Prince Streets, where the Archbishop of New York would address the crowd before revelers dispersed to celebrate.
In the mid-1800’s, the individual societies merged under a single grand marshal and the size of the parade grew sharply. This was when the Ancient Order of Hibernians became the official sponsor of the parade.
While the parade has always been led by a military unit, for the past 150 years, members of the National Guard’s 69th Regiment known as the “Fighting 69” has proudly led the way up Fifth Avenue. This distinguished group of soldiers is followed proudly by members of various Irish societies of the city, the thirty-two Irish County Societies, various schools, colleges, Emerald societies, Irish-language and nationalist societies.
To this day, the St. Patrick's Day Parade remains true to its roots as a traditional marchers’ parade by not allowing floats, automobiles and other commercial aspects to participate, giving it a decidedly different feel than, say the Thanksgiving Day Parade. If you haven't been, make it a point to join the fun this year, and bring the family! Every year, the Parade Committee hosts 150,000- 250,000 marchers in front of approximately two million spectators lining Fifth Avenue, and a great time is had by all.
This year's Grand Marshal is Mr. Alfred E. Smith. Mr. Smith is CEO of AE Smith Associates a firm he founded in 2009. In December 2006, Mr. Smith retired from his position as Managing Director of Bear Wagner Specialists LLC, a specialist and member firm of the New York Stock Exchange, after 35 successful years on Wall Street. Mr. Smith sits on the Boards of The Tony Blair Faith Foundation, Mutual of America, and Provectus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. He is a Senior Advisor for the Marwood Group, as well as Kroll Bond Rating Agency. Smith also served as Chairman of the Board of Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers in New York. The Parade is also televised for four hours on New York’s WNBC Channel 4 to over half a million households and was web-streamed for the first time in 2008.
The parade kicks off at 11:00 a.m., marching up Fifth Avenue, past St. Patrick's Cathedral, on to 79th Street, ending up around 4:30 or 5:00.
For a parade schedule and line up, more history and information, please visit the official website at http://www.nycstpatricksparade.org