The first St Patrick's Day parade was held in New York City in 1766. It
consisted of Irish military men who had been recruited to serve in the colonies. It was organized by the
military until after the War of
1812, when Irish fraternal and benefit societies took over. The parade became so large that in 1851, all
societies were required to merge under one grand marshall.
In accordance with tradition, every year a military unit marches at the head of parade. The Irish 165th Infantry
(originally the "Fighting 69th") is the honorary escort. Participants include (in marching order) the Irish societies of New York City,
American Order of Hibernians, the 30 Irish county societies follwed by various Irish societies from around the world. Floats,
cars and exhibits are not allowed.
Approximately 150,000 people march each year. New York City's parade is the largest St Patrick's Day parade in America.
The parade starts at 44th Street and 5th Avenue, and proceeds up 5th to 86th Street.
The 69th New York Fighting Irish lead off the 2004 St. Patrick's Day parade in NYC with their
traditional Irish Wolfhound mascot. 3.17.04
FDNY salute to fallen heroes. 3.17.04