St. Patrick’s Day rites: parades, bagpipes, clinking pints

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Oh boy Danny, it’s the time of year when Irish bagpipes sound in the concrete valleys of New York City, through the limp branches of Savannah, Georgia, and in the halls of the White House while the United States United States celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. with parades, pub crawls and a state visit.

Thousands of tourists and locals packed the oak-shaded plazas and sidewalks of downtown Savannah on Friday. The city’s parade, a 100-year tradition, is the largest in the South.

Veteran parade watchers arrived before dawn to claim space in the plazas for picnic tables and party tents. The bars opened at 7 am to welcome customers already thirsty for beer and Bloody Marys.

The annual parade in New York City, which bills itself as the oldest and largest in the world, drew crowds to Fifth Avenue to wait for bagpipes and bands, and to pay homage to Ireland’s patron saint.

“When we march down Fifth Avenue,” New York Mayor Eric Adams said during the annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast reception, “it seems like everything goes green.”

Irish immigrants have a long history of helping make New York City what it is today: one of many groups, the mayor said, “that make up our city and that makes us great.”

Some cities like Chicago, which dyes its river green to commemorate a day in which everyone pretends to be Irish, already held their parades last weekend. Other cities, including Boston, will hold parades and other festivities this weekend.

Also flowing green will be the fountain on the South Lawn of the White House when President Joe Biden, who often speaks of his Irish heritage, welcomes Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar for a longstanding meeting between the two chiefs. of state that was delayed two years. due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With temperatures forecast to hit the mid-70s in Savannah, many parade watchers wore shorts with green T-shirts and green plastic bead necklaces. Mike Trout painted his entire face and bald head in green makeup, accented by an orange plastic mustache.

“You’ve got the spirit, brother!” said a passerby tapping Trout on his shoulder as he and his wife, Diana, strolled through the streets ahead of the parade. The Camp Hill, Pennsylvania couple traveled to Savannah alone to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

“She’s Irish, I’m an Irish wannabe,” Trout said.

Started in 1824 by Irish immigrants in Georgia’s oldest city, Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day parade became one of the largest post-Mardi Gras street parties in the South.

“This is a lot of people,” said Sheila Barry, a Savannah native who reserved seats with a friend along Abercorn Street near the start of the parade route. They packed sandwiches, water, and something else to drink that Barry mischievously described as “St. Patrick’s holy water.

Barry, 55, wore a wide emerald green felt cummerbund embroidered with the names of his late parents, Irish immigrants who came to Savannah more than five decades ago. He said they loved Savannah’s Irish traditions and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

“Everybody, everybody is Irish today,” Barry said. “Everyone is here to have a good time.”

Adeline, the 2-year-old granddaughter of Vivian Penn, clapped and waved as the Savannah parade began with kilted schoolchildren carrying American and Irish flags, followed by the monotonous droning of a pipe band. The girl in a white dress with shamrocks and green stripes celebrated her birthday just two days before St. Patrick’s Day.

“She’s always going to be an Irish redhead,” Penn said of her blonde granddaughter.

Friday marked just the second parade in Savannah since the coronavirus pandemic forced city officials to pause the celebration in 2020 and 2021. Even last year’s return parade seemed subdued, with plenty of space along the The parade route is typically packed, said Penn, who lives nearby. in the historic district of downtown Savannah.

“It looks like this is back to normal,” Penn said. “This morning I said, ‘Yeah, it’s St. Patrick’s Day!’ Seeing all the people out the window with their chairs running down the street was very exciting.”

President Joe Biden will host Ireland’s prime minister on Friday, after the COVID-19 pandemic ruined the long-running St. Patrick’s Day gathering two years in a row.

The meeting with one of America’s main allies comes after Biden said he plans to visit both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland this year, the 25th anniversary of the US-brokered Good Friday deal. The deal helped end sectarian violence that had raged for three decades over the issue of Northern Ireland’s unification with Ireland or remaining part of the United Kingdom.


Bynum reported from Savannah, Georgia and Calvan from New York. Associated Press writer Colleen Long in Washington contributed to this report.

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