As spring gets springing, the luckiest of all holidays (with the possible exception of Chinese New Year – and a hearty “Gong Xi Fa Cai” to you), St. Patrick’s Day, is upon us tomorrow, and cities all over the country are gearing up for parades and parties. And the road trips to them are epic. Maybe not as epic as the cities and celebrations themselves, but still quite epic.
Here are the top 9 cities where you can expect to find the luck of the Irish and maximum St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. They’re in order, if you’re not from one of these cities. If you are from one of them, then it’s in no particular order.
In a city – and state – that thinks of itself as being the beating Irish heart within the United States, South Boston boasts a large and enthusiastic population of people whose heritage is of the Emerald Isle. Starting in 1901, the city’s massive parade is held on the Sunday closest to March 17.
New York City
The original (the first was held in 1762 by homesick Irish soldiers) and largest of all St. Patrick’s Day parades, New York City’s parade attracts two million spectators every year. Lasting six hours, the all-pedestrian (no engine power allowed) procession is led by a U.S. military detachment.
Philly has been gaining an impressive lead in many of the lists on the Internet for “best city for St. Patrick’s Day.” Yes, apparently, there are even critics out there for that kind of thing. Boasting an impressive Irish population, it’s also the only city that has a “St. Practice Day” the weekend before.
In Chicago, the day of the parade is always Saturday, and it begins with the iconic dyeing of the river. Don’t worry. The dye is EPA-approved. Then, the parade procession sees traditional dancers, pipers and teams of dress-tacked horses march proudly through the Windy City.
With a respectably sized Irish population, Pittsburgh offers great access to eateries and celebration venues and a legendary St. Patrick’s Day parade in which more than 20,000 people march every year.
A St. Patrick’s Day parade has been marched through Savannah ever since 1813. The roving street party is held on March 17, unless the 17th falls on a Sunday, the Lord’s day.
The Ancient Order of Hibernians St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the best in the country and starts St. Louis’s Irish neighborhood, Dog Town.
Cleveland’s official St. Patrick’s Day parade always happens on March 17. An impressive 500,000 people attended in 2012 and you can bet that it’s going to grow from there.
Davenport and the neighboring Quad Cities region of Illinois and Iowa host one granddaddy of a parade, the “Grand Parade.” This St. Patrick’s Day parade and party is so big, it covers two states.