Hot on the heels of a busy Carnival season, St. Patrick’s Day weekend has arrived. Hopefully, you’ve had a moment to relax and replenish your glitter supply, because it’s time to hit the parade route once again. The New Orleans area is teeming with Irish celebrations, ranging from parades the whole family can enjoy, to pub parties serving savory bites and emerald-hued beer. But regardless of where you go, remember: wear green, or get pinched.
Friday, March 15
Molly's at the Market Irish Parade, 6:30 p.m.
Although this carriage procession rolls through the French Quarter on Friday evening, the festivities begin much earlier in the day — 8:30 a.m., to be exact.
Participants dressed for a black-tie affair will meet at Molly’s at the Market, fill up on a hearty breakfast, hop into limousines and bar-hop around the city. After a visit to Erin Rose, known for its famous frozen Irish coffee, the group will walk back to Molly’s, where their carriages await.
In addition to riders tossing beads, T-shirts and trinkets, the parade features brass bands and dance groups, such as the Nola Organ Grinders and the Pussyfooters.
The rowdy parade will likely cause “a traffic nightmare in the French Quarter,” said Jim “Trey” Monaghan III, the organizer of Molly's at the Market Irish Parade. “We'd love to give everyone a heads up.”
The highlight of Monaghan’s daylong party is the moment krewe members climb into the carriages parked outside of Molly’s, right before the parade begins.
“There are so many different people from the neighborhood and the city that are here, catching throws as people are loading onto the carriages,” said Monaghan, grandson of the parade’s founder, Jim Monaghan. “In my family, we don't really celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas as a family. This is the closest thing to a family celebration that we have all year.”
Saturday, March 16
Irish Channel Parade, 1 p.m.
For nearly five years, construction on Louisiana Avenue caused The Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Committee, formed in 1947, to take a few detours through Uptown. This year, the Irish Channel Parade will return to its original route.
The parade follows a noon Mass at St. Mary’s Assumption Church and includes 31 floats carrying riders that will toss cabbage, carrots, potatoes and other Irish stew ingredients. Marchers in formal attire will hand out flowers along the route. Dance groups, bands and bagpipe players will also join the fun.
This year’s grand marshal is Norman Ryan; the "Irish gentleman" post is held by Elmo Steinert. Both men are longtime committee members.
“This event brings back the people who grew up in the Irish Channel, and all of their relatives,” said Dick Burke, the president of the parade. “It's a great meeting place for people who come back and see their old friends.”
Two nearby block parties will take place this afternoon: one at Tracey’s Original Irish Channel Bar (2604 Magazine St.), and another at Parasol’s Bar & Restaurant (2533 Constance St.)
Sunday, March 17
St. Patrick's Day Parade on Metairie Road, noon
For the first time, the St. Patrick's Day Parade on Metairie Road will honor two grand marshals: John and Ralph Marchese. Both men are the sons of the parade’s founder. They will ride alongside their wives, Diane and Angie, respectively, who will reign as the queens.
The parade features nearly 100 floats, along with bands and marching units. Participants will distribute beads, charms and trinkets, produce, and Moon Pies.
The pre-parade party happens on the Friday evening of March 15, under the overpass of Metairie Road, near Gennaro's Bar at 3206 Metairie Road. During the shindig, committee members will present the grand marshals with authentic Irish shillelaghs, which resemble knobby, wooden walking sticks. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.
“The unique part of our parade is that we’re on Metairie Road, and we will remain on Metairie Road,” said Donald Bock, the parade captain and president.
The Downtown Irish Club Parade also rolls on Sunday. Festivities begin in the French Quarter, at 6 p.m.
Sunday, March 24
Louisiana Irish-Italian Parade, Noon
The Irish and the Italians share the stage for this Metairie parade. Greg Champagne, the sheriff of St. Charles Parish, is the Irish grand marshal. Dominick Impastato, an attorney and a Jefferson Parish councilman, is the Italian grand marshal.
The parade includes 110 units and bands, including Archbishop Rummel High School’s marching band. Not only will riders toss produce, they’ll delight the crowd with mini king cakes from Cartozzo's Bakery in Kenner, thick loaves of Italian bread, bars of Irish Spring soap and bundles of dry pasta.
“You name it, we throw it,” said Jason Renton, the president of the Louisiana Irish-Italian Association. “We're the smorgasbord of parades.”
Saturday, April 6
Irish-Italian Isleños Parade at St. Bernard, Noon
During this annual St. Bernard bash, float riders will toss nearly 500,000 pounds of produce, including limes, baby cantaloupes and the usual produce items that have become associated with Irish culture. Cups and Frisbees will also fly through the air.
This year’s theme is "Not All Super Heroes Wear Capes; Some Toss Produce."
Many participants will find creative ways to incorporate the theme into their costume or uniform. The parade features nearly 40 floats, along with bands, cheerleaders and marching groups distributing delicate paper flowers.
St. Bernard Parish president Guy McInnis will reign as the king, alongside his wife Laurie McInnis, the queen of the parade.
“I think we get a lot of people that moved away, come back, just to get a little taste of home and watch the parade,” said Chad O’Neil, the president of the parade. “It’s one of our biggest events in St. Bernard, so I think it's always well attended … as long as the weather cooperates.”
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