News / USA

NYC Hosts St. Patrick's Day Parade

These two girls were cold but happy at New York's Saint Patrick's Day Parade, March 17, 2014. (VOA Photo by Adam Phillips)
These two girls were cold but happy at New York's Saint Patrick's Day Parade, March 17, 2014. (VOA Photo by Adam Phillips)
Adam Phillips
March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day, and for millions of Americans of Irish descent, and others in search of a good time, that means a razzle-dazzle parade up New York’s Fifth Avenue.

The weather was bitter cold on St. Patrick’s Day, but that didn’t stop an estimated 150,000 marchers and musicians from processing up Fifth Avenue, just as they have every year since 1762.  Organizers say the march is the oldest and largest parade in the world.

Many bore Irish and American flags, and the banners of their Irish or Gaelic organizations, such as police, firefighter clubs and area high schools.  

Rick Burns was one of the estimated million spectators at the parade.

”We’re here because of Jackson Memorial High School, in Jackson, New Jersey," he said. "My son and Fatima’s daughter march."

When asked what was especially Irish about the day, Burns had a ready answer. 

"Everybody’s a little Irish today, even if you’re not Irish," he said.

The size and scope of the event has become an American tradition - and a New York tradition.

One group of college boys was proud that the Big Apple boasts a much larger parade than the one in Dublin, Ireland’s capital. 

“They probably hate us,” laughed one.  “New York is everything bigger than anywhere else.  It’s the best city in the world. So it does everything bigger!” said another.

Two Irish American girls, costumed and made up in the green and orange of the Irish flag, looked especially happy.

“It’s our heritage. It’s awesome. A little cold, but awesome.”

A reporter asked an Irish tourist what it means to be Irish in America.

The reply, “Irish people are happy no matter where they are. They celebrate St. Patrick’s no matter where they are, because it’s part of who we are!"

Parade organizers excluded Irish Americans who say they are gay.  It’s a controversial position that prompted Guinness, the Irish beer company, to withdraw its sponsorship.  Bill de Blasio, New York’s new mayor, also opted out of the march in protest.  

One lady sympathized with the mayor's position. 

“I don’t think they should stop them," she said. "Why just pick on one particular group. I would be for it. I think everybody should be allowed the freedom to march if they want. Why not?”

Nearby, a man hearing this disagreed.

“God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.  The Bible says seven times against it and the mayor wants to go with it!”

Controversy and celebration, music, revelry and complaint. On St. Patrick’s Day and every day in New York, it’s all part of the passing parade.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid