Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the largest holiday parades in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as well as the third-oldest Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the United States. It is held every year on the Sunday prior to Mach 17.

The Irish began to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in Philadelphia during the colonial period. The first St. Patrick’s Day in Philadelphia was held in 1771, five years before the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. The first parade was organized by the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick for the relief of Emigrants from Ireland. By the way, George Washington was an honorary member of the society.

The parade became a tradition that gained political overtones in the 19th century due to English oppression of the Irish back in Ireland and the resulting clashes between “native” Philadelphians and new Irish immigrants. After several cancellations during the Great Depression and the Second World War, the parade was revived in the 1950s and has been becoming increasingly popular ever since.

The Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade is organized by the St. Patrick’s Day Observance Association. It is held on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day. The parade day starts with a mass at Saint Patrick’s Church. It is open to the public and begins at 9:00 am. The parade itself kicks off at noon and lasts for about 4 hours.

Philadelphia’s parade includes about 20,000 participants in more than 150 groups. They include float riders and operators, Irish associations, dance groups, marching bands, youth groups, and flag carriers. The procession is lead by the Grand Marshall, an outstanding member of the Irish-American community. The parade focuses on the cultural aspects of Irish traditions. Its main goal is to honor Irish heritage. Once a religious holiday, it has transformed into a largely secular celebration for people of different ethnicity.

About 100,000 spectators line up on the Ben Franklin Parkway to see one of the country’s most colorful and entertaining Irish parades. Most of them wear Irish-style clothing or at least something green because, as the saying goes, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Photo: Jeff Meade




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