St. Patrick’s Day: All about NYC’s parade and the Chicago River dyeing
First held in 1762, before America’s independence, the parade is the oldest and largest in the world
St. Patrick’s Day has become a favorite holiday of recent generations. While in the past it was exclusively a religious holiday to the Patron Saint of Ireland, now many see it as the perfect excuse to drink, but also to enjoy the world’s largest parade, and other interesting tributes.
As this celebration approaches, we answer the most common questions and talk more about the NYC parade and the dyeing of the Chicago River, two of the most important events around this date.
When is St. Patrick’s Day?
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17 every year, being the traditional date of the death of St. Patrick, Ireland’s best known patron saint.
How was St. Patrick’s Day established?
According to the Church of Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day became a Christian holiday during the 17th century. It was originally observed by the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Lutheran Church, but is now a general holiday that does not necessarily involve religion.
NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the oldest and largest parade in the world. The first was held on March 17, 1762, 14 years before the U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed.
The parade is held on the same day as St. Patrick’s Day. If March 17 falls on a Sunday, the parade is moved to Saturday the 16th, to avoid crossing with religious observances.
The parade is held in honor of St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland and the Archdiocese of New York. From its earliest days to the present day, the parade is done entirely by volunteers, many of whom are from families who have spent generations devoting months to organizing the parade, which is billed as the largest and oldest in the world.
According to the parade’s official website, the largest parade in history was the one held in 2002, in honor of the heroes of the tragedy of the attack on the twin towers on September 9, 2001. That year, 300,000 marchers attended and 3 million spectators watched across Fifth Avenue. That was also the first time the parade was overseen by the President of Ireland, Mary Mc Aleese.
What time does the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade starts?
The parade starts at exactly 11 a.m., and its route goes down Fifth Avenue, starting at East 44th Street and ends at East 79th Street. On its way it passes by St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where it is observed by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York.
According to the official website, approximately 150 thousand people march with the parade, which attracts the attention of about 2 million spectators around the world.
Where is the best place to stand during the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade?
The parade can be viewed from anywhere along Fifth Avenue. The closer you are, the better you will be able to see the parade. For this, it is recommended to arrive early. There is no specific time, but it is best to arrive during the early hours of the day.
Can the parade be cancelled due to bad weather?
Throughout its history, the parade has never been cancelled due to weather conditions, and has marched in different types of weather.
How to get tickets for the grandstands?
There are grandstands where people can enjoy the parade, and these can be obtained by writing directly to the parade office address. These are given out on a first-come, first-served basis and may be sold out.
A letter requesting tickets along with a self-addressed stamped envelope should be sent to:
NYC St Patrick’s Parade
P.O. Box 295 Woodlawn Station
Bronx, NY 10470
These must be requested before March 1st.
It should be noted that people attending the stands should be dressed in “business casual” attire, being somewhat formal, as there is an opportunity to meet government officials, members of the clergy, or dignitaries.
What streets are closed during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade?
5th Avenue between 42nd and 86th Streets
Madison Avenue between 63rd and 64th Streets
Madison Avenue between 78th and 86th Streets
Vanderbilt Avenue between 43rd and 46th Streets
43rd Street between Vanderbilt Avenue and 6th Avenue
44th Street between Vanderbilt Avenue and 6th Avenue
45th Street between Vanderbilt Avenue and 6th Avenue
46th Street between Vanderbilt Avenue and 6th Avenue
47th Street between Park Avenue and 6th Avenue
48th Street between Park Avenue and 6th Avenue
62nd Street between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue
63rd Street between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue
64th Street between Park Avenue and 5th Avenue
72nd Street between Madison Avenue and 5th Avenue
78th Street between Madison Avenue and 5th Avenue
79th Street between 5th Avenue and Park Avenue
80th Street between 5th Avenue and Park Avenue
81st Street between 5th Avenue and Park Avenue
82nd Street between 5th Avenue and Park Avenue
83rd Street between 5th Avenue and Park Avenue
84th Street between Madison Avenue and 5th Avenue
85th Street between Madison Avenue and 5th Avenue
St. Patrick’s Day and the Chicago River dyeing
While in New York the focus is on the parade, in Chicago people look forward to seeing how the Chicago River is dyed green during this celebration, resulting in a river painted in the color of the celebration with an emerald green.
The Chicago River dyeing began in 1962 at the suggestion of a local plumbers union, and has become one of the most famous local events. This is usually done on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day, using a special paint that lasts only a few hours (as opposed to the beginning, when it lasted up to a month).
It is not known precisely what the formula for dyeing the water consists of, and it is kept a secret by the organizers. However, it is said to be environmentally friendly and does not affect the water.
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