New York City has the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the world, even bigger than Dublin. Our parade is also the oldest in the world, as the first proud group marched in 1762, 14 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. It was easy for me to get into the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day this year because I just hosted a video for BBC Travel about the secret the world of Irish dance in New York City. I met two Irish dance groups that put a distinctly modern spin on traditional Irish step dancing. One group melds traditional Irish step dancing with modern dance, the other with street-inspired breakdancing and Hip Hop. The cultural diversity of NYC never ceases to amaze me.
So as I’ve been thinking a lot about the vibrant Irish culture in New York, and I decided to take my four-year-old son to the parade this afternoon. The last the I watched the St.Patrick’s Day Parade in person was 2009. He really enjoyed the bagpipes and the drums. The child next to us was decked out in a full traditional costume including a sporran for his kilt (rented for this occasion), but my son spread his own Irish cheer in his bright green down jacket. We enjoyed watching the different groups march down Fifth Avenue. At the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City is that other cultures march in their own traditional costumes, like Japan, Spain and Brittany, France, reflecting the melting pot that is New York. But what really got me was the Emerald Society of the FDNY. A lot of New York’s Bravest are of Irish descent and they’re very proud about it! Here’s a video of them marching:
Shortly after the Emerald Society came the US Veterans. Watching the flags wave on this very windy day was quite moving. Perhaps it’s not what first comes to mind when you think of St. Patrick’s Day, but it was one of my favorite moments of today’s parade.
Have you ever been to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in NYC? Or any other city?