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Saint Patrick's Day, although only a legal holiday in Suffolk County, Massachusetts (where it is recognized alongside Evacuation Day) and Chatham County, Georgia, is nonetheless widely recognized and celebrated throughout the United States. It is primarily celebrated as a recognition of Irish and Irish American culture; celebrations include prominent displays of the color green, eating and drinking, religious observances, and numerous parades. The holiday has been celebrated on the North American continent since the late 18th century.
The Charitable Irish Society of Boston organized the first observance of Saint Patrick's Day in the Thirteen Colonies. Surprisingly, the celebration was not Catholic in nature, Irish immigration to the colonies having been dominated by Protestants.:8 The society's purpose in gathering was simply to honor its homeland, and although they continued to meet annually to coordinate charitable works for the Irish community in Boston, they did not meet on 17 March again until 1794.:8 During the observance of the day, individuals attended a service of worship and a special dinner.:8
New York's first Saint Patrick's Day observance was similar in nature to that of Boston's. It was held on 17 March 1762 in the home of John Marshall, an Irish Protestant, and over the next few years informal gatherings by Irish immigrants were the norm. The first recorded parade in New York was by Irish soldiers in the British Army in 1766.:9 In 1780, while camped in Morristown, NJ, General George Washington, who commanded soldiers of Irish descent in the Continental Army, allowed his troops a holiday on 17 March "as an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence." This event became known as The Saint Patrick's Day Encampment of 1780.[unreliable source?]
Irish patriotism in New York City continued to soar and the parade in New York City continued to grow. Irish aid societies were created like Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian Society and they marched in the parades too. Finally when many of these aid societies joined forces in 1848 the parade became not only the largest parade in the United States but one of the largest in the world.
The City of Savannah, Georgia has hosted the Saint Patrick's Day celebrations since 1824. It boasts a celebration rivaling New York City in size and fervor. Unlike any other cities, Savannah's historic parade is always held on March 17, not on the neighboring weekend. Festivities begin more than a week in advance with 
Communal rituals and commemorative ceremonies, such as the St.Patrick`s Parade, were in fact the two main causal factors to have intimately shaped Irish-American identity as we recognize it today. In fact,leading up to the 1870s, Irish-American identity in the United States was reworked through the shifting character of the Saint Patrick's Day rituals and features under three separate occasions: initially, in 1853 when it undertook a “spiritual rhetoric” notion, then when it became known as a “reformulated memory of an Irish past couched in terms of vengeance against Britain” to finally, adopting a “sectarian catholic nationalism” attitude in the 1870s and 1880s.
In fact, ceremonies represent the very “junctures at which processes of identity formation surface through representation” which imply that ritual practices,represent the molding tools by which people turn to in order to build a national identity for themselves. Furthermore,incorporating “the analysis of commemorative rituals” consists of a valuable element “in the context of broader historical studies” as it reveals a whole lot about the collective conscience of the Irish-American community.
There is a clear gradual shift towards a nationalist attitude in the Irish-American Diaspora which can be detected in the prose of Doheny`s commemorative speech in 1853 but the “complete ascendency to a nationalist [approach] in Irish identity” truly came in the 1870s and 1880s. More importantly, there were already numerous evidences of a national identity present in the Irish catholic labouring classes prior to the settlement of an Irish-catholic community in America. Despite the longing memory of a loved lost Ireland, the main factor that contributed to creating a clear “sense of group unity” in the Irish-American community really came with the hatred sentiments that were felt towards “British oppression and resistance”.
Furthermore, there is a turnover in perspectives towards the causes of the Great famine in the mind of the Irish-American that can be traced: one that varies from a “mourning religious view”, seen in Archbishop Hughes `sermon, to a perspective that shifts the blame towards the British monarchy for its indifference and greed , seen in Cahill’s speech in 1860. From that point on, all the following commemorative speeches on the Saint Patrick`s Day invoked nationalist themes such as “British hatred” and “heroic struggle” and led way for the creation of a “new parade” which gained in adherents and absorbed “elements of American patriotism and full-fledged nationalism ”. The end result was such that the Irish- American community came to regard itself in the 1870s as a community that defined itself by dual loyalties on one hand, and in another as “a unified common organism” which gathered in strength on the basis that they had a common past, “not a religious one but one that centered on the common Irish experience of British oppression and suffering ”. In other words, this goes to show that the shifting character of commemorative rituals experienced during the Saint Patrick`s parade have influenced the development of American culture in a larger sense since it contributed to enriching its heritage and making of its Irish-American Diaspora a prideful concept to celebrate and look up to.
In every year since 1991, March has been proclaimed Irish-American Heritage Month by the US Congress or President due to the date of Saint Patrick's Day. Christian denominations in the United States observing this feast day include the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Protestant Episcopal Church, and the Roman Catholic Church. Today, Saint Patrick's Day is widely celebrated in America by Irish and non-Irish alike. For most Irish-Americans, this holiday is both religious and festive. It is one of the leading days for consumption of alcohol in the United States, as individuals are allowed to break their Lenten sacrifices for the day in order to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day. The consumption of artificially colored green beer is a common celebration. Green Beer Day, for instance, is a tradition among students at Miami University (Miami of Ohio), dating to 1952; the day has been held on the Thursday before spring break due to the fact that Saint Patrick's Day often occurs during the spring recess. Many people choose to wear green colored clothing and items. Traditionally, those who are caught not wearing green are pinched "affectionately".
Seattle and other cities paint the traffic stripe of their parade routes green. Chicago dyes its river green and has done so since 1962 when sewer workers used green dye to check for sewer discharges and had the idea to turn the river green for Saint Patrick's Day. Originally 100 pounds of vegetable dye was used to turn the river green for a whole week but now only forty pounds of dye is used and the colour only lasts for several hours. Indianapolis also dyes its main canal green. Savannah dyes its downtown city fountains green. Missouri University of Science and Technology - St Pat's Board Alumni paint 12 city blocks kelly green with mops before the annual parade. In Jamestown, New York, the Chadakoin River (a small tributary that connects Conewango Creek with its source at Chautauqua Lake) is dyed green each year.
Columbia, South Carolina dyes its fountain green in the area known as Five Points (a popular collegiate location near the University of South Carolina). A two day celebration is held over St Patrick's Day weekend. In Boston, Evacuation Day is celebrated as a public holiday for Suffolk County. While officially commemorating the British departure from Boston, it was made an official holiday after Saint Patrick's Day parades had been occurring in Boston for several decades, and is often believed to have been popularised because of its falling on the same day as Saint Patrick's Day.
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In the Northeastern United States, peas are traditionally planted on Saint Patrick's Day.
Many parades are held to celebrate the holiday. The longest-running public parades are:
The city of Buffalo has two Saint Patrick's Day parades. The first is the "Old Neighborhood Parade," which is in its 19th year in 2012 and takes place in the city's historic Old First Ward in South Buffalo on the Saturday nearest Saint Patrick's Day (before or after). The older, larger "Buffalo Saint Patrick's Day Parade" (in its 70th consecutive year in 2012) also takes place, usually on the day after the Old Neighborhood parade. That parade runs from Niagara Square along Delaware Avenue to North Street. The latter parade is the 3rd largest parade in New York State behind the New York City Parade and the Pearl River Parade.
Butte's mixed heritage and mining history brought in a large population of Irish immigrants. The yearly event brings in visitors from all over the world and doubles the city's population for the day. Butte has a long history of running a parade and concerts in the uptown area. There currently is not an open container law in Butte Montana and the event often becomes rowdy.
The Irish comprise one of the largest ethnic groups in the city of Chicago. Although the Irish are present throughout the city, it is widely known[by whom?] that they are most concentrated on the south side of the city. People on the south side that are of Irish heritage are known as the "South Side Irish," and have long had an influential role in the political and economic scene of the city. They even have their own song that features lines pronouncing pride in Irish-American heritage. The city has many different Saint Patrick's Day celebrations, the most famous being the dyeing of the Chicago River. Each year, the city hosts a parade downtown, which involves thousands of people lining the banks of the river and watching as a boat releases dye into the river and turns the river a kelly green colour.
Another famous celebration is the South Side Irish parade. This is known as more of a celebration by those of Irish heritage rather than a popular activity attended by people of all heritages like the downtown celebration has been known. This parade features traditional Irish dancers, as well as various businesses and organisations from around the city. This parade has been scaled back in recent years as the Saint Patrick's Day committee announced that it was becoming too large for the community to handle. In 2010, the South Side Parade was suspended. Due in part to pressure from community businesses - particularly pubs and package goods stores - as well as local churches on the city, the parade is being reinstated in 2012.
The Chicago White Sox baseball team, who play on the South side, are known for their "Halfway to Saint Patrick's Day" promotion held in September, when the team wears white jerseys with green pinstripes and caps, in lieu of the traditional black.
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Since 1867, Cleveland has honored its own Irish heritage with an annual Saint Patrick's Day parade. In recent years, over 13,000 registered participants march in the parade and display floats in front of hundreds of thousands of people. The new record attendance was set in 2012, with over 500,000 spectators. Superior Avenue in Downtown Cleveland has been host to the parade route from E.18th St to Public Square.
As part of the ceremony of the Cleveland Parade, a Grand Marshall is chosen to preside over the Parade. This is an honorary title given to a man "usually in his senior years, who has contributed significantly to the advancement of the Irish Activities in Cleveland." This recognition has been part of the ceremony since 1935.
Five Points in Columbia, South Carolina is home to one of the largest Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in the southeast. Each year Saint Patrick's in Five Points welcomes over 40,000 people living the luck of the Irish and celebrating all things Gaelic! Continually growing and improving, the festival includes a 10K and 5K run, a fun filled parade, family entertainment, Irish food and craft offerings, a kid approved Pot O’ Gold Play-land, a swinging shag dance exhibition and DJ throw down, as well as five outdoor stages with live music hosting over 25 musical acts.
The world's smallest Saint Patrick's Day Parade occurs in Enterprise, Alabama each year. A person of Irish descent, generally dressed in festive garb and carrying a large Irish flag, is the only person in the parade. He, or she, walks one block from the courthouse to the Boll Weevil Monument and back to the courthouse. The parade is reported by local and national news.
Over the years, there has been much controversy surrounding the public intoxication during this event. The city has issued a zero tolerance policy, and has been enacting $2,000 minimum fines for any alcohol-related offence.
This Western Mass factory town was the site of massive Irish immigration in the 19th Century, and hosts a Parade its organisers claim is the second largest in the United States. It is scheduled on the Sunday following Saint Patrick's Day each year. Attendance exceeds 300,000, with over 25,000 marchers, through a 2.3-mile route in this city of 40,000. A 10K road Race and many events create a remarkable festival weekend. Each year an Irish-American who has distinguished himself or herself in their chosen profession is awarded the John F. Kennedy National Award. JFK was a National Award Winner in the 1958 Holyoke Parade. Other winners include author Tom Clancy, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, and actor Pat O'Brien
The Hot Springs, Arkansas parade is among world's Shortest Saint Patrick's Day Parade, held annually on historic Bridge Street, designated "The Shortest Street in the World" in the 1940s by Ripley’s Believe It or Not. The street is 98 feet long, making it the shortest Saint Patrick's Day parade in the world. 
Mal's St. Paddy's Parade in downtown Jackson started in 1983 and has grown each year, with an estimated 65,000 attendees in 2011. The parade is the brainchild of Jackson entrepreneur Malcolm White, who is now the Executive Director of the Mississippi Arts Commission. For years, a highlight of the parade was the Sweet Potato Queens, who started a separate parade in 2011 because their ranks of marchers had grown too numerous.
The Southern Nevada, (formerly Las Vegas) Sons of Erin have put on a parade since 1966. It was formerly held on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas, later moved to 4th street. Since 2005, the parade has been held in downtown Henderson.2013 parade will be held March 16 @10AM. It is the biggest parade in the state of Nevada. It also consists of a three day festival, carnival and classic car show in Old Town Henderson.
Maryville, Missouri, home of Northwest Missouri State University, annually holds a parade sponsored by The Palms Bar and Grill that has been recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the shortest Saint Patrick's Day parade. It runs approximately 1/2 of a block.
Historically the largest entry port for Irish immigrants in the US South, New Orleans has maintained a large population of Irish heritage, and Saint Patrick's Day traditions going back to the 19th century, including multiple block parties and parades.
The New Orleans parades are mostly based around neighbourhood and community organisations. Major parades include the Irish Channel parade, the Downtown Irish Parade starting in the Bywater neighbourhood, multiple parades in the French Quarter, and a combined Irish-Italian Parade celebrating both Saint Patrick's Day and Saint Joseph's Day. As with many parades in New Orleans, the influence of New Orleans Mardi Gras is apparent, with some of the floats being reused from local Carnival parades, and beads and trinkets being thrown to those along the parade route. New Orleans Saint Patrick's Day parades are also famous for throwing onions, carrots, cabbages, potatoes, and other ingredients for making an Irish stew.
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The New York parade has not only become the largest Saint Patrick's Day parade in the world but it is also the oldest civilian parade in the world. In a typical year, 150,000 marchers participate in it, including bands, firefighters, military and police groups, county associations, emigrant societies and social and cultural clubs with two million spectators line the streets. The parade marches up the 1.5 mile route along 5th Avenue in Manhattan, is a five hour procession, and is always led by the 69th Infantry Regiment (New York). The Commissioner of the parade always asks the Commanding Officer if the 69th is ready, to which the response is, "The 69th is always ready." New York politicians - or those running for office - are always found prominently marching in the parade. Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch (who was of Jewish ethnicity) once proclaimed himself "Ed O'Koch" for the day, and he continued to don an Irish sweater and march every year up until 2003, even though he was no longer in office.
The parade has drawn controversy for many years for its exclusion of openly gay organisations. In 1989 Dorothy Hayden Cudahy became the first female Grand Marshal of the Saint Patrick's Day Parade; in 1984 she had become the first woman, as well as the first American-born person, to be elected president of the County Kilkenny Association.
The New York parade is moved to the previous Saturday (16 March) in years where 17 March is a Sunday. The event also has been moved on the rare occasions when, due to Easter falling on a very early date, 17 March would land in Holy Week. This same scenario arose again in 2008, when Easter fell on 23 March, but the festivities went ahead on their normal date and received record viewers. In many other American cities (such as San Francisco), the parade is always held on the Sunday before 17 March, regardless of the liturgical calendar.
Pearl River attracts a crowd of 100,000 people, making it the second largest parade in New York state behind the New York City Parade. The parade started in 1963.
Rolla is home to the Missouri University of Science & Technology (formerly known as University of Missouri-Rolla, and Missouri School of Mines), an engineering college. Saint Patrick is the patron saint of engineers, the school and town's celebrations start ten days before Saint Patrick's Day, with a downtown parade held the Saturday before Saint Patrick's. A royal court is crowned, and the streets in the city's downtown area are painted solid green. Each year's celebrations are said to be "The Best Ever." In 2008, Rolla celebrated its "100th Annual Best Ever Saint Patrick's Day 2008" celebration.
In previous years, a pit of green liquid was made by students as part of the festivities, and named 'Alice' -- stepping into Alice was a rite of bravery. In recent years the university faculty has banned the practice out of health concerns.
San Diego's St. Patrick's Day Parade is "the largest [St. Patrick's Day] Parade west of the Mississippi" as noted by its host organisation, the Irish Congress of Southern California (ICSC). It is also one of the largest single-day events in San Diego; in 2010, the Parade featured more than 150 parade entries and the Parade and Festival were attended by over 30,000 people. The 2011 parade is the 31st annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Irish Festival in Balboa Park, the large cultural park on the north side of downtown San Diego.
There has been a Saint Patrick's Day celebration in San Francisco since 1852. San Francisco has always had a large Irish American population and for many decades Irish Americans were the largest ethnic group in San Francisco. However, as of the early 21st century, the largest ethnic group in San Francisco is Chinese Americans and most of the Irish Americans have moved to the suburban parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. Each year, however, Irish from all over the San Francisco Bay Area come into San Francisco to march in or to see the Saint Patrick's Day parade march down Market Street, held the Sunday before Saint Patrick's Day. Numerous people from all ethnic groups can be seen wearing green in San Francisco on Saint Patrick's Day.
One of the largest parades is held in Savannah, Georgia. Many Irish settled in Savannah even in the earliest years since those freed from debtors prison were invited to join General James Oglethorpe's fledging colony. There is a Mass at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist prior to the parade. In the early 1960s, there was an attempt to dye the Savannah River green, but all it produced was an irregular green stripe in the middle of the river. The parade organisers claimed an expected attendance of around 400,000 for 2011. In 2006, the Tánaiste was featured in the parade. The parade travels through Savannah's Historic District. One tradition that has developed has been the official "dyeing of the fountains" which happens several days before the parade.
The 2012 Parade included over 360 participants making it the largest parade in the history of the City of Savannah. Organizer's say that the 2012 crowd was well over a million people. 
Some confusion exists about the year of the first Saint Patrick's Day parade in Savannah. There is some evidence that a private parade was held by "an unidentified group" referred to as "Fencibles" on 17 March 1813. However, it's generally accepted that the first publicly held Saint Patrick's Day procession was in 1824, organised by the Hibernian Society.
Due to the rich history of Scranton participation in Saint Patrick's Day festivities it is one of the oldest and most populated parades in the United States. It has been going on annually since 1862 by the Saint Patrick's Day Parade Association of Lackawanna County and the parade has got attention nationally as being one of the better Saint Patrick's Day parades. The parade route begins on Wyoming Ave. and loops up to Penn Ave. and then Lackawanna Ave. before going back down over Jefferson Ave. to get to Washington Ave. Scranton hosts the third largest Saint Patrick's Day Parade in the United States. In 2008, up to 150,000 people attended the parade.
Seattle Washington's Saint Patrick's Day Parade, recognised by CNN in 2009 as one of the "Five places to get your green on" in America, travels along a 1-mile route through the Emerald City's downtown financial and retail core the Saturday before Saint Patrick's Day. Seattle's Saint Patrick's Day Celebration is the largest and oldest in the Northwestern United States. In 2009, some 20,000 spectators and groups from throughout the Northwest turned out for the city's Irish shenanigans. Along with the annual "Laying 'O the Green" where Irish revellers mark the path of the next morning's procession with a mile-long green stripe, the Seattle parade marks the high-point of Seattle's Irish Week festivities. The week-long civic celebration organised by the city's Irish Heritage Club  includes the annual Society of the Friends of Saint Patrick Dinner where a century-old Irish Shillelagh has been passed to the group's new president for 70 years, an Irish Soda Bread Baking Contest, a Mass for Peace that brings together Catholics and others in a Protestant church, and the annual Irish Week Festival, which takes place around Saint Patrick's Day is enormous, including step dancing, food, historical and modern exhibitions, and Irish lessons. Many celebrities of Irish descent visit Seattle during its Saint Patrick's Day Celebration. In 2010 The Right Honourable Desmond Guinness, a direct descendant of Guinness Brewery founder Arthur Guinness, will serve as the parade's grand marshal. In 2009, The Tonight Show's Conan O'Brien made a guest appearance at the annual Mayor's Proclamation Luncheon at local Irish haunt F.X. McCrory's. And in 2008, European Union Ambassador to the US and former Irish Prime Minister John Bruton served as the parade's grand marshal and marched alongside Tom Costello, the mayor of Galway, Seattle's Irish sister city. Spokane, in eastern Washington, also hosts a Saint Patrick's Day Parade.
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In the city of Syracuse, NY, Saint Patrick's celebrations are traditionally begun with the delivery of green beer to Coleman's Irish Pub on the last Sunday of February. Coleman's is located in the Tipperary Hill section of the city. Tipperary Hill is home to the World famous "Green-on-Top" Traffic Light and is historically the Irish section in Syracuse. Saint Patrick's Day is rung in at midnight with the painting of a Shamrock under the Green-Over-Red traffic light. Syracuse boasts the largest Saint Patrick's Day celebration per-capita in the United States with their annual Syracuse Saint Patrick's Parade, founded by Nancy Duffy, an honoured journalist in the Central New York area and an active community leader, and Daniel F. Casey, a local Irishman and businessman. "The parade remains a major annual event, typically drawing an estimated crowd of more than 100,000 visitors to downtown Syracuse, as well as 5,000 to 6,000 marchers."
The Tallahassee Irish Society has been hosting an annual Saint Patrick's Day event in Tallahassee since 1999. In 2010, along with the City of Tallahassee, the first annual Saint Patrick's Day parade and Downtown Get Down is being hosted along Adams Street.
Although Major League Baseball is still in its preseason spring training phase when Saint Patrick's Day rolls around, some teams celebrate by wearing holiday-themed uniforms. The Cincinnati Reds were the first team to wear Saint Patrick's Day hats in 1978. The Boston Red Sox were the second team to start wearing Saint Patrick's Day hats in 1990. Many teams have since started wearing Saint Patrick's day themed jerseys, including the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1980s and Boston Red Sox in 2004. Since then it has become a tradition of many sports teams to also wear special uniforms to celebrate the holiday. The Los Angeles Dodgers also have a history with the Irish-American community. With the O'Malley family owning the team and more recently Frank McCourt, the Dodgers have had team celebrations or worn green jerseys on Saint Patrick's Day. The Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies also wear Saint Patrick's Day caps and jerseys. Other teams celebrate by wearing kelly green hats. These teams include: the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago White Sox, the New York Mets, the San Diego Padres, the Atlanta Braves, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Kansas City Royals, the Seattle Mariners and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Washington Nationals have fan green hat day on 17 September to represent 6 months to Saint Patrick's Day. The White Sox belatedly celebrate Saint Patrick's Day every second week of September by wearing a variation of their pinstriped home uniforms, featuring green instead of black, as part of their "Halfway to St. Patty's" promotion.
Nearly all Major League Baseball teams now produce Saint Patrick's Day merchandise, including Kelly green hats, jerseys, and t-shirts.
Four National Basketball Association teams adopt their third jerseys exclusively for Saint Patrick's Day (or Saint Patrick's Day week). During Saint Patrick's Day week, the Boston Celtics, whose road jersey is green, wear their gold/green jerseys, the Chicago Bulls wear their black/green alternate jersey which was introduced in the 2005–06 season, and the Toronto Raptors wear their black/green alternate jerseys which was introduced during the 2007–08 season. During Saint Patrick's Day games, the New York Knicks wear their green/orange alternate, which they adopted in the 2005–06 season, but in the 2009–10 season, they adopted it for both March 17 and Christmas.
The New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League traditionally wear their throwback uniforms, which include green in the color scheme (green was removed from the Devils' uniforms in 1992), on Saint Patrick's Day and did so for their 2010 and 2012 games against the Pittsburgh Penguins. They also wore them, albeit belatedly, on March 18, 2011 against the Washington Capitals; the Devils played a road game on March 17. Although the Devils and the Minnesota Wild are the only U.S.-based teams to wear green on ice, the league has offered a line of holiday-themed gear to its fans in recent years.
The only other major American sport, football, is out of season during the Saint Patrick's Day holiday. The National Football League does sell Saint Patrick's Day merchandise for its teams, however.
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