From New York City, to Savannah, Ga., to the halls of the White House, thousands of people in the U.S. celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with parades, pub crawls and a state visit.
Thousands of tourists and locals alike crowded the oak-shaded squares and downtown sidewalks of Savannah on Friday. The city’s parade, a 199-year-old tradition, is the South’s largest.
Veteran parade watchers arrived before dawn to claim space in the squares for picnic tables and party tents. Bars opened at 7 a.m. to greet customers already thirsty for beer and Bloody Marys.
The annual parade in New York City — which bills itself as the world’s largest and oldest — drew throngs to Fifth Avenue to await bagpipes and bands, and give homage to Ireland’s patron saint.
“When we march up Fifth Avenue,” New York Mayor Eric Adams said during the annual St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast Reception, “it appears as though everything turns to green.”
Irish immigrants have a deep history in helping New York City become what it is today — one of the many groups, the mayor said, “that make up our city and that makes us great.”
Kevin Conway, the parade’s grand marshal, led the way.
“We’re going to march in a celebration of all things Irish, the Irish culture, the Irish people. We’re going to march in tribute to the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Peace Agreement,” he said, referring to the peace accord that helped end sectarian violence over the reunification of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
Bernadette Byrne, who took in the parade while visiting from Ireland, felt right at home.
“The atmosphere is great,” she said. “Everybody’s so friendly.”
In Portland the city’s oldest Irish bar was in hot pursuit of a Guinness — not the famed Irish beer but what they hope will be a world record for the biggest Irish coffee ever brewed: 264 gallons of it.
Some cities, including Boston, will hold parades and other festivities this weekend. Other cities including Chicago, which dyes its river green to commemorate a day when everyone pretends to be Irish, already held their parades last weekend.
On Friday, the fountain on the South Lawn of the White House also flowed green as President Joe Biden, who often speaks of his Irish heritage, welcomed Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. The COVID-19 pandemic had delayed the longstanding meetup by two years. Biden said he plans to visit both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland this year, where he will likely commemorate the U.S.-brokered peace agreement.
Also in the nation’s capital, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the first Black cardinal from the United States, greeted the faithful with handshakes, hugs, and a few selfies amid the tunes of bagpipes and movements of Irish dancers.
In Savannah, temperatures were springlike, in the mid-70s. Fittingly, many parade watchers wore shorts with green T-shirts and strands of green plastic beads.