The Quick 10: 10 St. Patrick's Day Parades
In some cities, it's not St. Patrick's Day without the parade. We have one in Des Moines, but (gasp) I've never been. Ours is small potatoes compared to some of these - here are 10 parades that happen around the world, from Dublin to South Korea, from the biggest to the shortest.
2. Boston is also a contender for the longest-running St. Patrick's Day parade "“ legend puts their first parade a whopping 25 years before the New York counterpart. The tale there is one similar to the New York parade "“ the story is that in 1737, some Irish colonists held a small gathering in the street to acknowledge their roots. The History Channel calls New York the first official parade, though - any Bostonians care to dispute?
3. Hot Springs, Arkansas. The boyhood home of Bill Clinton, Alan Ladd and Billy Bob Thornton boasts a parade route that's just 98 feet long. Billed as "The World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade," the celebration is small on yardage but big on star power: this year's parade marshal is Bo Derek. Past marshals have included Pauly Shore, John Ratzenberger, Mike Rowe, George Wendt and Mario Lopez. Entertainment for those 98 feet includes your typical floats, but also the Irish Order of Elvi (Irish Elvis impersonators) and a group of Irish belly dancers.
4. Dripsey, Cork. The parade held in this small village in County Cork is a bit longer than the parade in Arkansas (about 100 yards total), but I like their beginning and end points better: two pubs. Some sources day the parade has been discontinued since a Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001, but others say 2001 was the only year the short celebration was halted. Do we have any _flossers in the know?
5. Montserrat, Caribbean. There aren't many places in the world where St. Patrick's Day is an actual national holiday, but this little island in the Caribbean is one of them. It's known as the "Emerald Island of the Caribbean" because it was founded by Irish refugees, but the celebration on the island is probably the only one in the world that actually celebrates an uprising against the Irish as well as celebrating Irish heritage. In 1768, a group of slaves rebelled against their Irish masters on St. Patrick's Day but were defeated. These days, dancers in parades carry whips and do mock-Irish dance steps to represent the slaves mocking their masters.
6. Dublin, Ireland. Up until relatively recently, Dublin really wasn't the place to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. That is, if "celebrate" means "booze it up" to you. Being a Saint's Day, it was considered a Holy Day of Obligation for Roman Catholic Irish and was solemnly observed - no marching bands and no Guinness at 6 a.m. But Dublin knows a good thing when it sees it, and the American tradition of drunken revelry has spread to their tourism industry. These days, if you want to see a two-hour parade that involves robots, marching polar bears, bees and marching bands from as far away as the U.S. and Japan, Dublin should be your destination.
9. Montreal, Canada, celebrated its 186th consecutive St. Pat's parade last weekend. Although the day has been celebrated since 1759 by Irish soldiers of the Montreal Garrison, the first parade on record took place more than 60 years later. Sadly, a 20-year-old student was killed at the parade this year, crushed under the wheels of the float. Officials for the parade are reviewing the incident to determine how to handle next year's crush of people.
10. Seoul, South Korea. You may not immediately think "Erin Go Bragh" when you think of Seoul, but they've held a parade annually since 2001. Attendance was around 20,000 as of 2008 and has been growing in popularity ever since.
Do you have a St. Patrick's Day parade in your town? Have you been to any of these famous parades? Let us know about your experience in the comments.