The Day New York Turns Irish

Saint Patrick stained glass window at St. Wenceslaus Church, Iowa City, Iowa.
Saint Patrick stained glass window at St. Wenceslaus Church, Iowa City, Iowa.

No other city on the planet goes through the vibrant transformation that New York City goes through on Saint Patrick’s Day. The biggest celebration is organized on Manhattan’s 5th avenue from 44th Street in Midtown running up to 79th St. in the Upper East Side. Over 150, 000 will march up the avenue and over two million people will be watching. The event will start at 11am and finish at around 4:30pm.

The Irish Dancing Music Association marches during the 251st annual St. Patrick's Day Parade March 17, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
The Irish Dancing Music Association marches during the 251st annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade March 17, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

Saint Patrick is the foremost patron saint of Ireland. The celebrations commemorate the arrival of Christianity to the Emerald Isle. The NY event reflects the many contributions made by Irish immigrants to American Culture the United States. Among the marchers there will be music bands, firefighters, military and police groups, county associations, emigrant societies and social and cultural clubs.

Bagpipe players at the St. Patrick's Day Parade in NYC.
Bagpipe players at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in NYC.

The parade has been going on since 1762 (14 years before American Independence), making it one of the oldest civilian parades in the world. The Manhattan event is the saint’s largest celebration in the world. Saint Patrick’s creative presence can be experienced year-round at the iconic Cathedral of St. Patrick occupying a full city block in Midtown Manhattan.

Façade of St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC
Façade of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC
St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC. View from the Top of the Rock Observatory at Rockefeller Center
St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC. View from the Top of the Rock Observatory at Rockefeller Center

People wear a lot of green today. St Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a green, three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish.

A lucky green shamrock with the words Happy St. Patricks Day imprinted on it.
A lucky green shamrock with the words Happy St. Patricks Day imprinted on it.

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