ATLANTA ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE
STORY: Claire Ruhlin
Originally started in 1858, the Atlanta St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the country’s oldest parades, and Atlanta’s longest running event.
The family-friendly spectacular, which kicks off at noon on Peachtree Street in Midtown, celebrates Irish culture with bagpipes, floats, dancers, marching bands from across the South, U.S. and Irish dignitaries, and members of the Hibernian Benevolent Society, Clan na nGael, Fire Emerald Society of Metro Atlanta and other Irish-centric organizations. The parade’s organizer, Irish Network Atlanta (INATL), works to create networking opportunities within the Irish community while also contributing to charitable organizations and cultural initiatives. “The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is so important for the young Irish professional in Atlanta away from home, often only a few years out of college,” says INATL president Jessica Houghton.
You don’t have to be Irish to enjoy the parade, of course, and this sense of openness is part of what makes it so special, says Emer Sutin, a member of INATL. “To see people from all walks of life, all backgrounds, all races, participating in the parade is truly incredible,” she says. “It’s amazing that the Irish population in Atlanta has such a strong presence that Peachtree gets shut down. Not many other events in the city can say that.”