We may not dye our river green but Cleveland definitely knows how to throw a St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Every March, this parade draws a hundred thousand people our of their winter hibernation to witness the spirit (and luck) of the Irish. This year 10,000 people, representing 125+ groups will take to the parade route Downtown, dressed in their greenest and most festive attire. A look back in history reveals why Cleveland, an industrial Ohio city on the lake came to have such a large Irish population and one of the biggest parades in the nation.
Cleveland has always been a home to large waves of immigrants. People from Poland, Hungary and many other countries found their new home in the City. The manual low skilled labor and existing immigrant population brought over huge numbers of immigrants during the industrial revolution and in other waves throughout the 19th century. The first Irish wave brought Irishmen from their home, in search of a better life in the wake of the great potato famine. Young, male workers were sent to America to make money and send it back to struggling families back home. Many Irishmen found a way to do this by working their way along the Ohio Canal, and in the shipyards of the small yet strategic town of Cleveland, Ohio. Over the years, the Irish population grew in Cleveland, mostly concentrated near the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, which later came to be known as Irishtown Bend. For the first few years, the Irish were ostracized in Cleveland for being wild, loud and poor. The outcast Irish formed a strong and tight-knit community, which remains strong to this day and is on display every March 17th.
A lot has changed since the small group of outcast Irishmen marched from church to church to celebrate the first documented parade in Cleveland in 1867. Today, United Irish Societies oversees a parade committee that plans, organizes and puts on the parade every year. Last year, 10,000 participants marched Downtown to celebrate their culture and125,00 spectators came to watch. What about the Cleveland St.Patrick’s day parade is so special that it makes it one of the largest celebrations in the City? Some people have said that Cleveland’s cold winters makes this early spring celebration all the more special. Others say that it is the long-standing immigrant traditions that Cleveland has, or maybe it’s Cleveland’s love of good beer and sunshine. Either way, the St. Patrick’s Day parade is near and dear to the hearts of Clevelanders and not to be missed. You can see the 2017 parade this year on March 17th. The parade starts at the intersection of Superior Avenue and East 18th street and travels southeast, ending on the intersection of Rockwell and East 6th Street.
We’ll see you there! Check out http://www.stpatricksdaycleveland.com/ for more info.