What is a St. Patrick celebration without a green beer, corned beef, and some good luck? The holiday, which celebrates both the patron saint of Ireland and Irish heritage, has gradually evolved in the United States from a small parade in New York City to a nationwide festival. Each city adds their own unique flavor to the clover-adorned gala. The party has only gotten bigger through the year, and St. Patrick’s Day has some of the wildest traditions of any holiday in the country.
Each March, visitors to Chicago might find something a bit off about the river. For the local St. Patrick’s Day parade and celebration, the city dyes the Chicago River green each year, a tradition that goes back to the 1960’s when the dye used in detecting pollutant leaks in the river turned the water green. Nowadays the dye is a lot more environmentally friendly than the chemical that started the tradition, allowing the river to be green in more way than one.
If everyone is in a hurry to skip straight to America’s favorite part of St. Patrick’s Day–the alcohol–then the World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade which takes place Hot Springs, Arkansas is the place to go. At a whopping 98 feet the parade lasts no longer than it takes to drink a Guinness.
The mixing of running and beer is never recommended, except on St. Patrick’s Day. The Virginia Beach Shamrock Marathon is 26.2 miles with a mix of serious racers and fun-runners. Instead of floats and confetti, watch thousands of runners jog down the street towards the reward of a cold beer at the end.
For those who would like to make their own parade there is the world’s largest pub crawl. Rich and Bennett’s St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl is one of the wildest traditions in the country. Taking place in Charlotte, North Carolina, the crawl has drawn upwards of 9,000 people with every stop featuring a special deal. Better yet, the event raises money to support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
As it has in America, St. Patrick’s day shenanigans have spread around to many countries in Europe. In Copenhagen, Denmark, the annual Three-Legged Charity Race is held. Partners are tethered together at the leg and must proceed through five pubs to the finish line. They also must drink a half-pint at each stop, as if running while tied to another person wasn’t difficult enough.
To avoid the hustle of the bigger city parades head to Enterprise, Alabama for the World’s Smallest St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Each year a lucky Irish-American is selected as both the Grand Marshall and sole participant in the event. All are welcome as spectators, just don’t be late or you might miss the whole thing.
Even the President of the United States is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Every year the South Lawn fountain is dyed in celebration of the holiday. The Capitol Building also hosts a St. Patrick’s Day lunch where the president attends. Then there is the annual Shamrock Ceremony in which the president is given a bouquet of clovers from Ireland.
St. Patrick’s Day in America will feature many of the biggest sports franchises swapping their regular colors for green. Baseball and basketball both accommodate this tradition, which started back in the 1970’s with, oddly enough, the Reds. Now the green jerseys, tanks, shoes, and equipment are widespread on and around St. Patrick’s Day.
Take part in a St. Patrick’s Day themed rock and roll festival at the Shamrock Fest in Washington, D.C. The festival features an extensive lineup of Irish and Irish-American bands of all genres, as well as several other acts. It is one of the loudest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the world.
Join the biggest Irish population in the country for the longest running St. Patrick’s Day parade in one of New York City’s wildest traditions. The parade is now over 250 years old–older than the country itself–and grew enormously after the city’s influx of Irish immigrants. There are many outrageous traditions around the world, but one of the biggest and craziest is still the original.
Opinion by Brian Moore