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Traditional and Off-the-Wall Places to Visit This St. Patrick’s Day

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By guest blogger Kelsey Bradshaw
Kelsey is a sophomore at the University of Oregon majoring in Journalism and Facebook (wait, that’s not a real major?!). Originally a track star from Medford, Oregon, she now enjoys going for runs with her friends and working out at Eugene Crossfit. She also enjoys visiting National Parks, playing in the snow, and hanging out at the beach…double points if they’re all at the same time.

In my small hometown, you wouldn’t know it was St. Patrick’s Day unless someone pinched you for not wearing green. But in some cities, Irish pride completely takes over on the 17th of March, resulting in leprechaun costumes, lots of bagpipes, and green everywhere—even the river, in some cases. Check out these city’s celebrations and be sad that your city isn’t cooler.

The very first St. Patrick’s Day in America was celebrated in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1737. Now, a crowd of more than 850,000 people shows up to watch its annual parade full of floats, bagpipers, and marching bands.

New York was second in hosting a St Patrick’s Day parade in 1762–but the tradition carries on to this day, making it the longest continuously-running civilian parade in the world. Nowadays, three million people gather to view the nearly 150,000 people that participate in the parade.

The Chicago River on St. Patrick's Day is dyed green. Photo by Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar.

Chicago is home to one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the city, but that’s not all it offers: a 48 year old tradition of dyeing the river green with more than 40 pounds of vegetable dye turns the river green for several hours. Similarly, the town of Savannah, Georgia, dyes all of their fountains green for their three-hour parade.

The small town of New London, Wisconsin, changes its highway signs to read “New Dublin” on St. Patrick’s Day each year (originally a prank, but one that has since been approved by the city council). Their St. Patty’s Day parade draws 30,000 people to a town with a population of 7,000, and boasts a collection of Celtic bands, bagpipe players, and a green hearse.

The shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade is set on the official Ripley’s shortest bridge in the world–the 98 foot long Bridge Street in Hot Springs, Arkansas, complete with Irish Elvis impersonators, Irish dancers and a celebrity “Grand Master” (Mario Lopez has gotten the honor in the past—I know, I just bought tickets, too).

Speaking of world records, in O’Neill, Nebraska, the world’s largest shamrock is found painted in the middle of the road between two highways. This town takes its Irish heritage seriously–on the 17th of every month, residents wear green to celebrate their inner leprechaun.

And, finally, there’s the original Dublin, Ireland, where the festivities last all week and there are more than 15,000 pounds of fireworks let off.

Whether your festivities take you to see the green Chicago River or just the green beer at your local bar, have a fun St. Patrick’s Day and may the luck of the Irish be with you!

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