The sun was shining on the streets of New York City as Ireland’s unofficial home-away-from-home celebrated its 251st St. Patrick’s Day. Revellers from all types of nationalities flocked to the city to join in on the party.
Penn Station became a flood of green early in the day as people from different states travelled in to join the parade, or to just head to one of New York City’s numerous Irish pubs.
33rd between 6th and 7th was a prime location for any party-goer. With a line of Irish bars (Feile, Stout and Blarney Rock), picking one was the hardest decision of the day for many.
Hoping to curb unruly crowds, Blarney Rock made the decision to boost their age of admittance to 23 years old.
Feile was a comfortable choice, a safe distance from the madness of Fifth Avenue during the parade, but still close enough to feel a part of the celebrations.
A few avenues away, Fifth Avenue filled with people to view the parade. Counties, Irish dancers, bag pipers and more marched up the green line as so many have in years past.
The parade culminated at the famed St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.
"Today is a day to celebrate all things Irish and that means we have a lot to celebrate," NYC Mayor Bloomberg told reporters following the traditional St. Patrick’s Day mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Despite efforts from groups like the Sober St. Patrick’s Day organizers, and several media outlets who called for an end to the stereotypical and often demeaning depictions of Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, drunks donning kitschy outfits were, as always, out in force in the city.
Green headbands, tshirts, pants, anything really seemed to take over the city. While some remained respectfully demure, others were unnecessarily gaudy, proving that yet again, St. Patrick’s Day has morphed from a celebration of an Irish saint and Ireland’s culture, to a party day for people to get drunk whilst wearing anything and everything green.
Which begs the question - will the stereotyping ever be removed from St. Patrick’s Day? By the looks of it, no, it won’t. As an Irish-American who has spent time in Ireland, including two St. Patrick’s Days in Dublin, I can say I’ve seen both sides of the fence.
In both Ireland and America, people from all walks of life join in on the celebrations of March 17th. Some choose to wear green, some choose to get drunk, and then, some don’t. Irish or not. To say that, in this day and age, that it’s only the Irish who are getting drunk on St. Patrick’s Day would be flat out wrong. If anything, it’s time for the general population to realize that St. Patrick’s Day isn’t solely celebrated by the Irish, nor will it ever be as emigration from Ireland continues to scatter Irish-born around the world.
It’s important to note that while St. Patrick’s Day gets a bad rap for it’s associations with drinking, it’s far from the only holiday that encourages a visit to the bar. New Year’s Eve, Halloween, Fourth of July, all see people perhaps overindulge in regards to alcohol.
I don’t agree with the marketing of shirts and caps that have the now infamous “Irish Yoga” scrawled across them, nor obviously the “Blow Me I’m Irish” tshirts being sold at Spencer’s. Attacking the Irish or not, these products are in shockingly bad taste, begging to be criticized.
But people choosing to have fun in order to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day - by drinking (responsibly, of course. I’m a fan of the pub but not of drunken fools) or wearing green, should be embraced. After all, everything is okay in moderation.
Moving to Ireland
After living in Ireland for almost one year, this is what I’ve learned