Parades aren’t easy to pull off in a pandemic, but for St. Patrick’s Day 2021, several cities found creative ways to continue the festivities. In a year when we need all the luck we can get, event organizers in cities like New York; San Francisco; Dublin, Ohio; and Dublin, Ireland held COVID-friendly St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
The NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade presented a daylong virtual program on March 17, honoring the holiday as well as first responders and essential workers. The celebration included a live broadcast of Mass from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a virtual parade of past marching groups, an hourlong streamed program that features greetings from political and community leaders, and two televised broadcasts.
San Francisco also held a virtual celebration, themed “Honoring All Those Who Protect and Serve.” The United Irish Societies of San Francisco (UISSF) invited community members to submit St. Patrick’s Day videos and photos, which the organization then compiled into an hourlong show loaded onto YouTube on March 13. The submissions included drumlines, marching bands, dance troupes, and even lumberjacks and pet enthusiast groups, according to Liam Frost, president of the UISSF.
“It’s very uplifting because of all those in the community who reach out to volunteer to help us carry on Irish traditions,” Frost says.
Dublin, Ohio, hosted a “reverse parade” on March 13. To ensure safety, the “Greenest, Grandest Parade” organizers flipped traditional parade roles. The spectators drove through the parade route, viewing stationary floats and performers along the way. They even encouraged spectators to “dress up” their cars as if they were in the parade. The reverse parade included the Columbus Saints Drum and Bugle Corps and the 6th Ohio Mounted Buglers, among other groups.
“The reverse parade is a creative way to allow us to gather and celebrate this long-standing tradition,” said Jill Kranstuber, the parade’s “Grand Leprechaun” and co-chairperson of the charitable Dublin Neighborhood Bridges in a press release.
Dublin, Ireland, couldn’t go without celebrating the lucky day either. It held a weeklong, televised St. Patrick’s Festival with the theme “Awaken Ireland” from March 12 to 17. While the Festival doesn’t have any traditional marching bands participating, it features a variety of musical performances and dance groups.
“This reimagined program … will allow us to all come together virtually to celebrate our national festival safely but also provide us with an opportunity to reflect on what has been a very difficult year,” says Catherine Martin, Ireland’s Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport, and Media.