Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day


The Central Florida Irish Cultural Society in Orlando holds an Irish parade annually in Winter Park. This year, the event will be held at 2 p.m. March 4 with 79 entries.



The wearin’ of the green encompasses rivers and even beer dyed green as most everyone in the United States becomes Irish on March 17.

  All the joy, fun and conviviality surfaces in many a city to praise and become Irish for the day. St. Patrick’s Day, too, is always printed on American calendars.

“We try to keep it alive because it is truly a part of Ireland,” said Kathleen Reineke, president of the Central Florida Irish Cultural Society headquartered in Orlando. “In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is the holy day of obligation for Catholics. But they have come over to having a parade in Dublin and the same kind of celebrating. It is people getting excited about doing things and the wearing of the green of Ireland.”

Many a myth or folk legend surrounds St. Patrick, patron saint of the day. What is known is he was kidnapped as a child from his homeland (some say Italy, others cite Britain) and taken as a slave to Ireland.

“He was always interested in getting the pagans to be Catholic,” Reineke said. “When he escaped from Ireland and went home, he returned to Ireland where he taught Christianity by using the shamrock that is shaped like the trinity. He truly converted Ireland before he died.”

In the states, St. Patrick’s Day has been rollicking with activities, but traditionally a more solemn occasion on the Emerald Isle.

“The parade in New York City is older than the United States,” Reineke said. “About four to six hours long, they paint a green stripe all the way up Fifth Avenue past St. Patrick’s Cathedral.”

The New York parade held in the 1760s was brought to fruition by Irishmen serving in the British military and continuing stronger in the “19th century when Irish Catholic immigrants faced discrimination in protestant-majority America, so the parades gave them the opportunity to show strength,” according to History.com.

Because St. Patrick’s Day is a holy day in Ireland, for many years the pubs were closed. But Dublin has come over to having a parade (started in 1995 by the Irish government to promote tourism.) Other Irish cities have had parades with the first in 1903 in Waterford. The largest parade is held in Dublin, followed by New York City, and then Birmingham, England. Australia and Canada also celebrate the day. The date is significant since it is thought to be the day St. Patrick died.

The Central Florida Irish Cultural Society conducts an annual parade in Winter Park. This year’s parade will be held at 2 p.m. March 4 with 79 entries running about an hour. Three pipe bands, Shriners and dancers are included.

Thirty-five American cities have celebrations on March 17. Among them are Buffalo, N.Y; Cleveland, Ohio; Butte, Mont.; Chicago, Boston, Atlanta and Las Vegas.