Have A Safe 'n Happy St Padd'ys Day!
From Coast To Coast, Irish Eyes Are Smiling
POSTED: 7:10 am EST March 17, 2006
UPDATED: 9:22 am EST March 17, 2006
From coast to coast, Irish eyes are smiling and cash registers are ringing.
In Savannah, Ga., St. Patrick's Day traditionally marks the biggest tourism boost of the year. And with the holiday falling on a Friday this year, businesses are counting on the "bucks" of the Irish to fill their coffers all weekend. Savannah boasts the nation's second-largest St. Patrick's Day parade, with more than 300 floats, bands and marching units, second only to New York.
In the Big Apple, more than 100,000 Irish-Americans will be marching up Fifth Avenue. Two million spectators are expected to watch the strutting and listen to the bagpipes.
St. Patrick's Day in New Orleans is a huge celebration with parades, marching clubs, block parties and even a head-shaving event called St. Baldrick's Day -- where men and women shave off their hair to benefit a local charity. (Click here to see an image of that.)
Traditional events include a huge block party at Parasol's in the Irish Channel, Jim Monaghan's Irish Parade through the French Quarter and the Downtown Irish Club's march to Bourbon Street. The Irish-Italian Parade rolls over the weekend and parade-goers can catch beads, flowers and even cabbage, potatoes, carrots and other vegetables to add to their delicious Irish stew.
Chicago has two parades. Last Saturday, March 11, the downtown St. Patrick's Day Parade took place. The city dyes the Chicago River green, dumping the neon-colored dye from speedboats. Thousands of parade-goers gather around Buckingham Fountain to enjoy the festivities before heading off to pubs throughout the city for some corned beef and cabbage. And on Sunday, March 12, the South Side Irish Parade took place. Dubbed "the real St. Patrick's Day Parade," this event is attended by a bevvy of local and state politicians, including Daley and the governor. On the day itself, bars, pubs, shops and restaurants hold themed events, parties and traditional dinners.
The city of Charlotte, N.C. has several Irish bars, and others that are just Irish for the day! Many of those open early to prepare for the day's festivities. Uptown also comes alive with the Queen City's annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Last year, nearly 30,000 spectators enjoyed the parade's combination of flags, floats, kids and bands. There is also a charming, admission-free festival for the entire family. It features Irish music, Irish dancers, bagpipers, food, venders and plenty of beverages.
Gays Not Marching In New York Parade
New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn said she can't deny who she is on any given day.
Quinn is New York City's first openly gay City Council leader. But she won't be marching in Friday's St. Patrick's Day parade because organizers are barring Irish gays and lesbians for the 16th straight year. Quinn does plan to attend several breakfasts before Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
She said compromise proposals were made but no deal was reached. The parade chairman told The New York Times that Quinn was "more than welcome to march as the leader of the City Council" but he says the parade won't allow "buttons or decorations in any shape or form."
Gay activist Brendan Fay quoted the song line, "When Irish eyes are smiling, all the world seems bright and gay,"' then adds, "Well, not on Fifth Avenue."
Quinn, who took office in January, said the city's Irish gays had hoped to march behind their own banner, like other groups, although she added that they were willing to walk with the City Council as a unified group.
The fight to let Irish gays march under their own banner dates to 1991, when parade organizers first rejected an application from the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will march, urged the Hibernians to change their stand on letting the gay group march behind its banner.
Bush, Irish Leader Celebrate
President George W. Bush and members of Congress got an early start on St. Patrick's Day Thursday with Ireland's Prime Minister Bertie Ahern as their guest.
The Capitol Hill luncheon was hosted by House Speaker Dennis Hastert. A trio of Irish singers provided entertainment. And there was lots of green including ties and the tablecloths.
The St. Patrick's Day tradition also includes Irish-American lawmakers and politicians from both the Irish republic and Northern Ireland.
Friday, Ahern takes part in another St. Patrick's tradition, presenting a bowl of shamrocks to the president at the White House.
St. Patrick is honored on March 17, his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed St. Patrick's Day as a religious holiday for thousands of years. Here are some facts about St. Patrick's Day.
Took place in the United States, 1762. Irish serving in English military marched in New York City March 17, Helped reconnect with Irish roots and fellow Irishmen in English army
RISE OF PRIDE:
In next 35 years, Irish patriotism among American immigrants flourished
"Irish Aid" societies: Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick/Hibernian Society
Each group would hold annual parades
NO IRISH NEED APPLY:
Potato Famine sent a million poor, uneducated Catholic Irish to U.S.,1845
Despised for religion and accents; couldn't even find menial jobs
When held parades, newspapers portrayed them as drunk, violent monkeys
Irish realize great numbers give them political power
St. Patrick's Day parades show of strength and a "must" for politicians
President Truman attends New York's parade in 1948
GREEN GOES GLOBAL:
Today, celebrated by all backgrounds in U.S., Canada, Australia
North America has the largest productions
Also celebrated in other locations, including Japan, Singapore, Russia
MODERN IRELAND AND ST. PATRICK'S DAY:
Traditionally a religious occasion. Up until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed March 17 In 1995, government started using day to drive tourism/showcase Ireland. Last year about a million took part in St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin.
Distributed by Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to this report.