Imagine walking down Delaware Avenue, you see kids running around with shamrocks painted on their cheeks, dressed all in green, as enormous and vibrant parade floats slowly pass by; Or walking down First Ward, hearing the pounding of the drums, blowing of the pipes, and family gathered in green celebrating on their lawns. Both these events represent long-lived cultural traditions that have been cherished since before we were born. It is the greatest day of the whole year: St. Patrick's Day in Buffalo, New York.
It all started on March 17, 1913, when a group of Irish immigrants marched from the Elk Street Market Terminal to Euclid Place and back to honor the patron saint of Ireland and their homeland. By 1915, 2,000 Irishmen marched the route to celebrate. Up until the Covid-19 Pandemic, the parade had been held every year in Buffalo, except for World War II and the snowstorm of 1997 that postponed the parade for one week. Every year, the United Irish-American Association and the city of Buffalo collaborate to make the parade as special as it is for Buffalo citizens.
Why is it specifically special to the city of Buffalo? Buffalo was first established in 1832 and the city was filled with thousands of Irish immigrants; Buffalo became one of the top destinations for Irish immigration in the United States. The Irish were the first to work and build the railroads and the Erie Canal, creating long-lasting history for our city. They made Buffalo the beautiful and unique city that it is today.
As over a century has passed, the St Patrick’s day parade remains a strong tradition in the eyes of the Buffalo community. As we prepare to celebrate, we never know what can happen in March; whether it's frostbite or sunburn, no one is ever truly properly dressed. This year, 2023, the Old Fort Ward parade will occur on Saturday, March 18, where most of the original Irish immigrants lived and a majority of their relatives continue to reside in. Once the parade is over, enjoy the live Irish music and check out a variety of the Irish pubs like Gene McCarthy’s, Adolf’s, Blackthorn and Doc Sullivan's. However, the fun is not over yet! On Sunday, March 19 head on down to Delaware Avenue with friends and family. Surrounded by multiple restaurants, pubs, and an energetic environment, there should be enough fun to celebrate this year's St. Patty’s Day parade.
As we gather together each year to watch this ongoing tradition, we come to learn that it is more than just a tradition. It is a prideful celebration to recognize the Irish heritage that makes up a majority of the city of Buffalo. We come together every year, Irish or not, to celebrate as a community and to unite as one, to uphold the true meaning of being a Buffalo citizen.
By: Grace Martin