St. Patrick’s Day Parades 2016
By R. Bryan Willits, Editorial Assistant
February / March 2016
George Mitchell, the former senate majority leader (D – Maine) and Northern Ireland peace broker, has accepted the invitation to be the Grand Marshal of New York’s 5th Avenue St. Patrick’s Day parade. Mitchell was appointed United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland by president Bill Clinton, and was a chief architect of the Mitchell Principles and the Good Friday Agreement, which have both led to relative peace and the current power sharing government in Northern Ireland.
The long-standing New York City parade has in recent years been embroiled in controversies over whether or not to allow LGBT groups to march in the parade. Mitchell was consequently reluctant to accept the invitation at first, but told The New York Times that he agreed to lead the parade after he was assured that the issue had “been satisfactorily resolved to all concerned.”
In that case, he said he was “happy to accept.” It will be the first parade in which he has marched, as well.
Mitchell, who is 82 and grew up in Maine and now lives in Manhattan, told the Times he was prepared though.
“I’m in good shape,” he said. “I play tennis, and I live in New York, so I walk a lot. I’ll have my running shoes on.”
Elsewhere, Pat Quinn, Irish America Hall of Fame inductee and founder of the A.L.S. Ice Bucket Challenge will lead the parade in Yonkers, while movie star Kevin Bacon and his brother will lead the world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The parade will be kicked off by actor and comedian Gary Busey, and will be followed with a free concert featuring The Bacon Brothers.
In Boston, the nation’s second largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Boston Police Department Lieutenant Christopher Hamilton, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, will serve as Chief Marshal. The parade, which is co-hosted by the Allied War Veteran’s Council, also celebrates Evacuation Day in Boston, when British Troops evacuated Boston during the Revolutionary War.
Michael J. Madigan, Illinois Speaker of the House, will be the Grand Marshal of Chicago’s parade, held this year on Saturday, March 12.
San Francisco will hold its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on the same day, which will feature Jerry Boyle, the president of the Knights of the Red Branch, the organization that commissioned the recent groundbreaking, independent study that showed that political unification in Ireland would result in economic improvement for the entire Island.
Across the Pacific, the world’s fourth largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade (after New York, Dublin, and Boston) in Sydney, Australia will not be held in 2016 as a result of financial problems incurred in 2014 when a storm passed through the city as the parade began. The parade committee has been unable to recover and is looking into multiple fundraising strategies to reinstate it for 2017. ♦