1. Senator Robert Kennedy was barred from taking part in the parade in 1967 by then Parade Chairman Judge James J. Comerford for “politicking.”
2. Comerford also banned Brendan Behan for “being a common drunk” in 1961. Behan shot back and said he had a new theory about snakes. “When St.Patrick drove them out of Ireland they all came to New York and became judges.”
3. Bernadette Devlin was also barred by Comerford as were the Berrigan brothers, both priests, because of their anti-Vietnam war stances.
4. Comerford barred writer Jimmy Breslin after the famous green line was painted part orange overnight one year and Comerford stated Jimmy Breslin the columnist had two guys do it “In order to get something to write about.”
5. During the Northern Troubles the Irish government representatives would leave the reviewing stand when the IRA support group Irish Northern Aid marched past.
6. In 1966 a councilman named Woodward Kingman introduced a bill calling for the parade to be moved off Fifth Avenue or confined to Sunday. Comerford organized a political campaign against him and he later lost his seat.
7. Early Irish settlers to the American colonies, many of whom were indentured servants, brought the Irish tradition of celebrating St. Patrick’s feast day to America. The first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade was held not in Ireland but in New York City in 1762, when a group of Irish soldiers in the British Army marched. Their superiors were not pleased.
8. There has been violence over the years but nothing like when 62 Catholics were killed in the New York Orange riots in 1871 when Irish Catholics protested Orangemen parading through their neighborhoods on July 12 and police militia opened fire on them.
9. Women were never allowed to be Grand Marshal until 66-year-old Dorothy Hayden Cudahy, a traffic warden and radio host, was chosen in 1989 ending a 229 year ban. There have been several since, including Maureen O’Hara and Mary Higgins Clark.
10. The Long Green Line painted up Fifth Avenue was briefly discontinued in the 1960s when other ethnic groups objected saying they were not able to do the same for their parades.