BY: Liliana R. Suarez, Senior Editor for World Liberty TV, Photography by Al Caplan (c)
The New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade™ is the oldest and largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the world. The first parade was held on March 17, 1762 — fourteen years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
The parade is held annually on March 17th at precisely 11:00 AM in honor of St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland and of the Archdiocese of New York. The parade route goes up Fifth Avenue beginning at East 44th Street and ending at East 79th Street. Approximately 150,000 people march in the parade which draws about 2 million spectators.
From its earliest days, right up to the present, the New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade™ has been run entirely by volunteers, many of whom come from generations of families dedicated to the organization of the parade. It takes months of preparation and countless hours to run the world’s oldest and largest parade. We could not do it without the commitment of these great women and men.
The NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade™ is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. When March 17 falls on a Sunday, the Parade is held on March 16 for religious observances.
The NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of New York City’s greatest traditions. The first parade was on March 17, 1762 — fourteen years before the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence. The first NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade was comprised of a band of homesick, Irish ex-patriots and Irish military members serving with the British Army stationed in the colonies in New York.
This was a time when the wearing of green was a sign of Irish pride but was banned in Ireland. In that 1762 parade, participants reveled in the freedom to speak Irish, wear green, sing Irish songs and play the pipes to Irish tunes that were meaningful to the Irish immigrants of that time.
Today, the NYC Parade marches up 5th Avenue and is reviewed from the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral by His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York. Since it began, this tradition of marching past St. Patrick’s Cathedral has remained unchanged with the exception of the address. In the early years, the Parade would march past the Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral (now Basilica) located at the corner of Mott and Prince Streets in SoHo.
Today, the Parade starts at 44th Street and 5th Avenue at 11am and proceeds up the avenue to 79th Street. Throughout the day along the Parade route, millions of spectators come to celebrate.
For the first few years, the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade was organized by military units. However, after the War of 1812, Irish fraternal and beneficial societies took over the duties of hosting and sponsoring the event. Around 1851 the “Irish” 69th Regiment began to lead the marchers. Also at that time, the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) became the official sponsor of the Parade as the individual societies merged under a single Grand Marshal. Today the 69th Regiment is still the first group to lead the Parade up 5th Avenue. They are followed by various Irish societies of NYC, the 32 Irish county societies, schools, colleges, Emerald societies and Irish language and nationalist societies. In the early 1990’s, the Parade was attacked for its traditional values and, in the resulting law suits, the organizer’s rights were upheld at the US Supreme Court level.
In 1992, the National AOH directed all AOH organizations to form separate corporations to run events such as the Parade. The NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade today is run under a separate corporation, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Inc.
In 2002, NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade was dedicated to the “Heroes of 9/11 honoring the police, fire and other rescue workers. At midday the entire Parade stretching one and half miles paused for two minutes. The marchers turned to face south towards the “Twin Towers” as Edward Cardinal Egan said a prayer for the victims of 9/11. It is said that was the first time in history that one could hear a pin drop on 5th Avenue. That year’s Parade was the largest to date with an estimated 300,000 marchers and three million spectators lining 5th Avenue. It was also the first time in the Parade’s history that the President of Ireland (Mary Mc Aleese) reviewed the Parade.
In 2011, the Parade celebrated its 250th anniversary with the world-renowned author Mary Higgins Clark as its Grand Marshal.
Five years later, the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade has much to celebrate and for which to be thankful. This year is the Ireland 2016 Centenary Year. Senator George Mitchell is the Grand Marshal. And the Parade is scheduled to have about 200,000 people marching up the avenue.
The NYC Parade is held on March 17th and begins precisely at 11:00 AM. The Parade marches up Fifth Avenue beginning at East 44th Street and ending at East 79th Street.
2022 Grand Marshal: James T. Callahan General President of the International Union of Operating Engineers Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the IUOE is a diverse trade union that represents over 400,000 men and women in the United States and Canada who work as heavy equipment operators, mechanics, and surveyors in the construction industry, as well as stationary engineers who work in the operation and maintenance of industrial and commercial buildings such as schools, hospitals, offices, powerhouses, sports arenas and the like, in both countries.
The IUOE also represents nurses and other health industry workers, public employees in a wide variety of occupations, and several job classifications in the petrochemical industry.
President Callahan is a 40-year member and third-generation Operating Engineer, who moved up the ranks from Member to Shop Steward, Foreman, Trustee, Business Representative and ultimately in 2003, led Local 15 in New York City as President and Business Manager.President Callahan began his career in the Operating Engineers in 1980.
Some of the 2022 Aides to the Grand Marshal were: Thomas A. Beirne, New York County Aide to the Grand Marshal, Joseph A. McManus, Bronx County Aide to the Grand Marshal. Margaret M. Costello,Queens County Aide to the Grand Marshal.Edward R. Grayson, Grand Council of United Emerald Societies Aide to the Grand Marshal and many more.
Other guests in attendance and marched in the St Patrick’s day parade were: Pat Lynch President of New York Police Benevolent Association, (PBA), largest Police Union, Paul DiGiacomo , Detectives’ Endowment Association President. Political leaders in attendance was New York State Governor, Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York Attorney General, Letitia James, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York City Comptroller, Brad Lander. New York City Council Speaker, Adrienne Adams alongside many council members in attendance.
Close to 1 million people were all lined up Fifth Ave, and millions more watching on TV. St Patrick’s Day Parade is the largest parade in New York city.