Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade

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The Irish in Philadelphia first celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in 1771, five years before the Declaration of Independence was signed! 2020 marks 250 continuous years of celebrations. The current parade, which is hosted by the St. Patrick’s Day Observance Association, was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation in 1952.
Philadelphia’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a long-standing event of great civic pride for both the City of Philadelphia and the local Irish American community. The Annual Parade is held on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day. If March 17th falls on a Sunday, the Parade Board has the option of having it on March 10th, since so many groups who march are already committed to other events. This year the parade is on Sunday March 15. The route begins at 16th & JFK Blvd., goes around City Hall to Market and east on Market to the review stand at 5th & Market. Channel 29 begins coverage at noon until 1:30. (Then it switches to NASCAR coverage.) At 1:30, TV coverage will continue on multiple channels, including Comcast 246. (Check the parade’s website at for more information)
This event is the largest Philadelphia Parade by number of participants – approximately 20,000. More than 200 groups are represented in the parade, including marching bands, dance groups, youth groups, and Irish associations. Thousands of spectators have lined the Parkway and now Market Street to enjoy the parade each year.
Irish Americans have celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Philadelphia since their arrival in America. George Washington, a member of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, actively encouraged Irish American patriots to join his Colonial army. Over the years, these celebrations reflected the times with several themes emerging; religious, patriotism honoring military service, remembrance of the political struggles in Ireland and a celebration of Irish culture. The common theme remains honoring St. Patrick’s work.
This year the theme for this year’s parade is “250 Years of Faith, Family, Friendship and Heritage.” The Grand Marshal is Michael J. Bradley, Jr., a longtime leader in the Philadelphia-area Irish American community. Mike has been a key leader for the SPDOA for decades, including Parade director, board President and a man who steps up to get it done!
The Ring of Honor for the 2020 parade includes some awesome Irish American men and women from the Delaware Valley. They are: Tom Dooley, John Brennan, Louie Bradley, Shiela Hess, Daniel Gallagher, Maureen Heather McGrory Lisowski, Michael Remshard, Sister Mary Ellen Tennity and Bill Whitman. Come join us this March 15th on Market Street for an afternoon of Irish pride!
Joseph Fox, 1st VP SPDOA

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