The History of NYC’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade

New York City has lots of Irish history. More than 12 percent of the population has Irish roots, according to the Washington Post. But on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone in America wears their finest green clothes to celebrate the Irish holiday. While some take part by enjoying shepherd’s pie and Guinness at their local pub, New Yorkers have the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Fifth Avenue. Here’s a bit of history on the city’s favorite holiday.

Early Gatherings

In its early days, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade looked nothing like it does today. The first recorded parade in New York City was held in 1762. It was small and attended only by the local Irish population and Irish soldiers serving in the British Army. They gathered to celebrate their Irish culture and wear green, something that was banned in Ireland by the British.

Parades Through the Years

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations stopped during the Revolutionary War, but they started again after the war as Irish political organizations formed across New York City. Irish people throughout the five boroughs marched from their local churches to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. For many years, several parades were held on the same day. As fights began breaking out, the focus changed to making the parades a more unified symbol of Irish-American culture.

The Modern Parade

In 1891, the parade was transformed into what it is today by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. They set the parade route and banned over-the-top festivities, including floats. The parade now consists of marching groups and bands playing traditional Irish music.

While St. Patrick’s Day parades are held throughout the country, you can be part of a rich tradition on March 16, 2019, in New York City. At ALCC American Language’s campus in the heart of NYC, you’ll be uniquely situated to learn about other cultures while taking English courses. To see if our program is right for you, check out our online registration or call us at (212) 736-2373.


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