An International Holiday
Even though St. Patrick's Day is deeply rooted in Irish culture and Catholicism, the holiday resonates worldwide, though its forms might be a bit quirkier than downing green beer. From a tiny parade in Ark to an Ireland-obsessed city in Nebraska, these seven ways of celebrating St Paddy's Day around the world are fun, wacky, and just plain odd.
Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade
Hot Springs, Arkansas takes pride in hosting the shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade. All 98 feet of Bridge Street, which was named the shortest street in the world by "Ripley's Believe It or Not," is used for celebrations with Irish Elvis impersonators, a middle-age troupe called Lards of the Dance and other attractions.
From New London to New Dublin
Each year, members of the Shamrock Club in New London, Wisconsin dress up as leprechauns and change highway signs so the town name reads New Dublin. The town's typical population numbers about 7,000, but New Dublin draws around 30,000 people on St. Patrick's Day. Festivities include bagpipe players, a Finnegan's Wake that involves a green hearse and Celtic bands playing in Irish Fest.
Dyeing the River Green
For more than 40 years, the Chicago River has been dyed green on St. Patrick's Day. After the river is colored by an eco-friendly powdered vegetable dye, it can take several days for the green to dissipate.
The World's Biggest Shamrock
The Irish capital of Nebraska, O'Neill, has a painted four-leaf clover in the middle of the road where Route 281 and Highway 20 meet. The sign welcomes visitors and tells them of the town's deep Irish roots. John O'Neill, the town's namesake, was an Irishman who served in the Civil War. St. Patrick's Day celebrations include demonstrations by a hypnotist and a reading of Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham." Celebrating Irish heritage is more than a once-a-year festival, so residents wear green on the 17th of every month.
Holiday in the Caribbean
St. Patrick's Day is a national holiday in Montserrat. The Caribbean island has both rich Irish and African heritage, and March 17 also marks the anniversary of a slave uprising in 1768. (Slavery was abolished in 1834.) The annual festivities include masked street dancers, a tradition that blends African and European cultural elements.
Brisbane, Australia hosts a big bash every year for St. Paddy. The Queensland Irish Association parade celebrates Australia's immigrant (and convict) history, so Aussies gather dressed up as people sent to build a nation. They portray widows and orphans, miners, teachers and everyone in between.
Taking Back St Pat
In Banwen, Wales, a history club insists that St. Patrick was in fact Welsh. At 16, he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland, these historians say. On March 17, the organization stages a parade that leads to a stone commemorating where the patron saint of Ireland was allegedly born.
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