Thursday, March 15, 2012

Information About St. Patrick's Day and the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade

What time does the St. Patrick's Day Parade start?

The parade begins at 10:45 a.m., and it continues until the last marcher finishes, some time around 3:00 - 4:00 pm.

What is the route for the St. Patrick's Day Parade in NYC?

It begins near 44th St., on Fifth Avenue, and continues straight up to 79th St. See the official website for the line of march.

Where is the best place to watch the St. Patrick's Day Parade in NYC?

It all depends on your personal preference.

If you really want to WATCH the parade, then your best bet is to watch near the end of the route, in the 70s. To get there via Subway, take the 6 train to 68th St or 77th St, walk a few avenues to Fifth Avenue, and then walk to one of the blocks in between the subway stations, as those closer to the subway will be more crowded. Try to cross over Fifth Avenue during a break in the parade, and watch it from the Central Park side.

On the other hand, if it's all about the party and enjoying the scene, then you want to be between 44th and 59th. The most crowded section is usually around St. Patrick's Church at 50th St., and again at 59th St.; and that was true even before there was an Apple Store right there, on the second day of sales of the new iPad.

The viewing stand for dignitaries (with tickets) is between 62nd and 64th; it can be very crowded there, but it is also where the bands and other entertainers put on their best show.

If you're looking for a happy medium, try to watch near the beginning of the parade, between 44th and 47th Streets.

Who is St. Patrick and why is there a St. Patrick's Day Parade?

Patrick was born in Great Britain in the late fourth century. When he was 16, he was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland, where he worked as a shepherd and drew close to God. “I used to pasture the flock each day and I used to pray many times a day,” he wrote. “More and more did the love of God, and my fear of him and faith increase.”

After six years in Ireland, he escaped on a ship back to Britain after hearing a voice in his sleep telling him to return home. He was reunited with his family, but a dream urged him to return to Ireland. Patrick spent the ensuing years training to be a priest. He is believed to have returned to Ireland around 432 A.D. to begin preaching Christianity to the predominantly pagan population. Though he was threatened and occasionally arrested by local kings, he wrote that he “baptized so many thousands of people.” He played a significant role in converting the majority of Ireland’s population.

Patrick is known for using a three-leaf clover, the shamrock, to teach new believers about the Holy Trinity, as well as the Celtic Cross, which combines the pagan influence of the son with the Christian Cross. The date of Patrick's death was recorded in the Annals of Ulster—in a section written in the seventh century—as March 17, 493, “in the 120th year of his age, in the 60th year after he had come to Ireland to baptize the Irish.” Most modern historians, however, believe he died in 460 or 461.

Did Patrick Really Drive the Snakes Out of Ireland?

Patrick is famous for driving the snakes out of Ireland, an apocryphal tale. “It’s unlikely there ever were any snakes in Ireland,” explains the BBC. “The snake may be a reference to serpent, a symbol of evil, and the driving out a reference to Patrick's mission to rid Ireland of pagan influence.”

Where are the best places to eat and drink in NYC for St. Patrick's Day?

Avoid, at all costs, any place that is along the parade route - they will all be dangerously mobbed and uncomfortable. Go watch the parade, then take a short subway trip to a place that, while crowded enough, will enable you to actually enjoy the experience of a St. Patrick's Day meal and drinkfest in a NYC Irish bar.

We're friendly with several of the finest Irish proprietors in NYC and highly recommend each of these places:

Tir na nOg NYC has two wonderful, authentic Irish pubs, at 33rd and 8th and at 315 W. 39th St. Each will offer several traditional Irish music bands for the three days around March 17. The 39th St. location is the best Notre Dame bar in NYC.

Mustang Harry's, at 30th and 7th, is convenient for those coming or leaving through Penn Station. It is a very large facility that will be showing all your favorite sports teams, has an excellent line-up of drinks and a solid menu of comfort food. It is very family-friendly. Call them at (212) 268-8930. A block away, and similar in all respects, is sister restaurant Mustang Sallys; call them at 212-695-3806.

Brickyard Gastropub is at 52nd and Ninth - about a ten minute walk to the West from St. Patrick's Cathedral. It has great food, terrific craft beers, and a great ambiance, and will have live music during the day. Call them at 212-767-0077 to reserve, or email them at