Norfolk Saint Patrick’s Day Parade

Norfolk Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
The Norfolk Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the longest-running St. Patrick’s Day parades in the United States. It has been held in Norfolk, Virginia since 1968. What started as a humble celebration has grown to become one of the city’s most cherished traditions.

The history of Norfolk’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade dates back to 1967. According to local legend, several Brother Knights of Father Kealy Council were sitting at the bar on Saint Patrick’s Day when one of them came up with the idea of celebrating the holiday with a parade. They marched around the council home carrying brooms and trash can lids, making several stops for liquid refreshment along the way. This improvised parade was so much fun that they decided to make it an annual affair.

That’s how the tradition was born. Next year Father Kealey Council organized and sponsored a “real” Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. The first parade included a couple of small bands and a few marching bands led by the Grand Marshall in the traditional green top hat riding a Cadillac convertible. It didn’t draw a big crowd. Maybe a several hundred people lined the parade route to cheer the participants.

Things have changed since then. Today St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Norfolk features about 200 floats, marching units and bands and attracts thousands of spectators lining the 1.5 mile long route. One of the largest holiday parades on the East Coast, it generates significant media attention, produces tremendous exposure the sponsors, and serves as a major tourist attraction. It was organized by the Knights of Columbus Council until 2016, when the sponsorship was handed over to Norfolk Parade, Inc.

The parade kicks off at 10 a.m. on the Saturday closest to March 17 and lasts for about 2.5 hours. It is followed by the after parade party with live music, food, drinks, and fun. The party is open to the public – but only to those who are aged 21 years old or over.

Norfolk Saint Patrick’s Day Parade

Photo: Bobbi Taylor




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