Party supply store Shindigz ranks Savannah, Ga., ahead of Windy City; Philly, KC and The Lou also make Top 7
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 11.2 percent of United States citizens are of Irish decent; but when St. Patrick’s Day comes around, it seems the whole country becomes Irish. There’s something about the Irish holiday honoring Saint Patrick, the most recognized patron saint of Ireland, that makes people want to claim a piece of it.
So, where can one find the best places to celebrate St. Patty’s Day? Shindigz, a party supply store that touts itself as the place “where the world comes to party,” set out to find the top seven cities for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
When it comes to celebrating the greenest of holidays, there’s more to the party than just green beer and baked potatoes. Several U.S. cities have a large Irish population, even larger parades, and even a “jiggy” night life made up of genuine Irish pubs, clubs and bars. Taking these factors into consideration, Shindigz came up with the following list of the top seven U.S. cities for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
No. 7 – Kansas City, Mo.
Kansas City has been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day as a city since 1873. Its population is 10.4 percent Irish, according to city-data.com, and its parade is one to be reckoned with. Drawing a crowd of approximately 200,000 people, the grand prize winner of the parade procession in Kansas City wins an all-expenses paid trip to Ireland. That’s some serious parade marching! Their night life consists of many Irish pubs including haunts like O’Dowds Little Dublin, and Lafferty’s.
No. 6 – St. Louis, Mo.
Although city-data lists the Irish population of St. Louis as only about 8.6 percent, the city’s celebration made the list for many other reasons. Every year, St. Louis kicks off its March 17 celebration with the Michelob 5-Mile Run. The 2012 run is slated to involve over 13,000 runners. That’s more than the lawn seating capacity of the St. Louis Verizon Wireless Amphitheater! After the race there’s a St. Patty’s Day parade featuring balloons, Irish dancers, horses and large floats. The celebration often goes into the night at clubs and pubs like O’Connell’s and John D. McGurks.
No. 5 – Philadelphia
Not only does Philadelphia have genuine Irish fare and drinks at places like the Black Sheep Pub and McGillin’s Olde Ale House, it also boast the nation’s second oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade. The city brings in over 500,000 people for a parade that features thousands of walkers, and was so big last year that local CBS affiliate conducted a live broadcast of the city-wide celebration. With a 13.6-percent Irish population, it’s easy to see why Philly is the place to be on St. Patty’s Day.
No 4 – New York City
The most densely populated city in the country is only made up of 5.3 percent Irish. Regardless, New York has become a swarm of green with an annual parade dating back to 1762. The NYC St. Patty’s Day Parade features more than 150,000 marchers and draws a crowd of over 1 million spectators. Many in the city flock to take in the breathtaking site of the infamous St. Patrick’s Cathedral, while others attend establishments with a bit more flair. Take for example, Paddy Reilly’s Irish Pub, which has just one draft on tap — Guinness.
No. 3 – Chicago
While others may put Chicago a bit higher on their list, Shindigz attributes the No. 3 ranking to the fact just 6.6 percent of its population is of Irish decent. However, the diverse population provides for two parades to choose from for the city-wide celebration. The Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade on Columbus Drive in the city’s downtown area usually draws in the biggest crowd with about 350,000 spectators, while the older South Side Irish Parade is more of a community event with 250,000. That’s a big community, which has, by the way, gone two years without a parade. Organizers cancelled the event after the 2009 parade because of excessive public drunkenness, lewd behavior and safety concerns, but the march is scheduled to be rekindled this year. But the most exciting part of the Chicago festivities may be the dyeing of the Chicago River. For the past 43 years, a local plumber’s union has dyed the river a spectacular shade of shamrock green prior to the parade and city festivities. It’s truly a sight to behold.
No. 2 – Savannah, Ga.
With an Irish population of just 5.9 percent, Savannah is still near the top of the Shindigz list based on several other factors. For a city that has half the square mileage of Chicago, it still draws in over 300,000 spectators; and, like Chicago, Savannah has its own dyeing tradition. They dye the city fountain green in the morning and cap off the night with Gaelic music and Irish eats at places like Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub, which has also been voted one of the top 10 Irish Pubs in America. With a smaller, more genuine feel than Chicago, Shindigz awards Savannah the No. 2 spot.
No. 1 – Boston
The celebration in Boston begins a full week before St. Patrick’s Day and doesn’t stop until the green beer runs dry. A whopping 15.8 percent of Boston’s population is made up of Irish or their descendants. An incredible 850,000 people attend some portion of the celebration, whether it’s the Gaelic Gourmet Gala, the numerous Irish band concerts, or the infamous parade with nearly 600,000 spectators. For the night owls who prefer to dance a jig, the Black Thorn Bar in Southie is elbow-to-elbow with regulars with a rough-around-the-edges feel, but always welcoming to newbies on St. Patrick’s Day. If Southie isn’t your style, check out the Black Rose on State Street, offering Irish food, pints of ale and Irish music.