NATIONAL NEWS

With green and glee, major US parades mark St. Patrick’s Day — a little early

Mar 16, 2024, 11:12 AM

Drones wishing a Happy St. Patrick's day in Ireland...

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 16: Symbols of Ireland's world-famous traditional music and dance culture can be seen, as the Orchestra of Light Intel Drone Light Show to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day, takes place over the iconic Samuel Beckett bridge and River Liffey on March 16, 2021 in Dublin, Ireland. The show, which features 500 intel drones highlights Irelands global influence, and how a small island on the edge of Europe has spread its culture and traditions across the world. The show was created by St Patricks Festival, Tourism Ireland and Dublin City Council to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day in lieu of the annual festival which has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans celebrated Irish heritage at several major St. Patrick’s Day parades Saturday, marking the holiday a day early at events that included a big anniversary in Savannah, Georgia, and honored a pioneering female business leader as grand marshal in New York.

The holiday commemorates Ireland’s patron saint and was popularized largely by Irish Catholic immigrants. While St. Patrick’s Day falls on March 17, some parades were moved up from Sunday, a day of worship for the Christian faithful.

Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which dates to 1762, is one of the world’s largest Irish heritage festivities. So many people march the 1.8-mile (2.4-kilometer) route up Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue that the parade was expected to last over five hours.

Megan Stransky of Houston and two relatives planned a Broadway weekend to coincide with the parade, seeing it as a prime opportunity to remember their family’s Irish roots and the traditions that helped shape their upbringing.

The event didn’t disappoint.

“There is no comparison to any other parade or city that I’ve been to,” Stransky marveled as she took in the bagpipers, bands, police and military contingents and more.

The grand marshal, Irish-born Heineken USA CEO Maggie Timoney, is the first female CEO of a major U.S. beer company.

New York City has multiple parades on various dates around its five boroughs — including, on Sunday, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade allowing LGBTQ+ groups to march on Staten Island.

Mayor Eric Adams last month announced the plan for the new, privately organized celebration, arranged after a local organization asked for years to join the borough’s decades-old parade. That longstanding event, which does not allow groups to march under LGBTQ+ banners, happened earlier this month.

The Manhattan parade began allowing LGBTQ+ groups and symbols in 2015, after decades of protests, legal challenges and boycotts by some politicians.

The Chicago Plumbers Union plans once again to turn the Chicago River green. Organizers say the tradition, started by the union, uses an environmentally friendly powder once used to check pipes for leaks.

In Savannah, Georgia, organizers expect a historic crowd to participate in the parade, which started in 1824. Ahead of the bicentennial, Georgia’s oldest city had nearly 18,000 hotel rooms booked for the weekend.


This story has been corrected to show that Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade began allowing LGBTQ+ groups to march under their own banners in 2015, not 2014, and that the new Staten Island parade allowing such contingents is set to happen Sunday, rather than having happened in February. The story has been edited to clarify that Timoney is USA CEO for Heineken.

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With green and glee, major US parades mark St. Patrick’s Day — a little early