If you plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day – March 17 – in the Wilmington area this year, you’ll be able to enjoy the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, a number of Irish-themed concerts, and the fabulous Shamrock Shuttle nighttime bar crawl. Mark your calendar, as you may need to wear your green sweaters and earmuffs, however. Forecasters are calling for St. Patrick’s Day temperatures in the 30s, but you can expect temperatures in the 20s for at least part of the day.
The holiday celebrates Saint Patrick, who actually was not even Irish. Patrick was a British and Christian missionary who purportedly arrived to convert the Irish in the year 432. His opposition to the powerful Druid priests became a legendary allegory about driving snakes out of Ireland. Saint Patrick’s Day is observed on March 17th, the purported date of Patrick’s death in the year 461.
The day became an official Christian feast day in the 17th century. The feast day is observed by the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church. Celebrations usually include parades, festivals, and the wearing of green clothing or shamrocks. Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day, and that has helped to establish the popular tradition of alcohol consumption for this joyous and special commemoration.
However, history shows that the first St. Patrick’s Day parade wasn’t even held in Ireland but rather in the United States. The Charitable Irish Society held the first Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in the state of Massachusetts, specifically in Boston, in 1724, while the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in Ireland wasn’t held until 1903. St. Patrick’s Day is an official holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the British Territory of Montserrat. In the United States, although it’s celebrated from sea to shining sea, St. Patrick’s Day is an official holiday only in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, and in Savannah, Georgia.
Wilmington events include the 42nd annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, sponsored by the Irish Culture Club of Delaware, took place on Saturday, March 11th, and began at noon (since the big day falls on a Friday this year). It’s been a tradition in this city since 1976. The free parade launched from Fourth and North King, and headed north on King Street, ending up at St. Patrick’s Church on East 14th Street. This community family event is favorite amongst kids and parents.
Across the street from the church, during and after the parade, the Irish Culture Club of Delaware held their annual fundraiser. Paradegoers could purchase a $20 commemorative mug and drink beer until all the kegs were empty. For more info, head to the website for the Irish Culture Club of Delaware.
And that event is only one of the many St. Patrick’s celebrations in the Wilmington area. Starting on Thursday night and running through the weekend, here is a guide for just a few of the St. Patrick’s Day events that Wilmingtonians may care to check out:
THURSDAY, MARCH 16
At 6:30 p.m., the St. Patrick’s Day Society’s Irish stew dinner and cocktail party will be held at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church, the location being 809 South Broom Street in Wilmington. It’s a dinner to honor the supporters of Wilmington’s St. Patrick’s Center, which feeds the hungry and connects them with social services. Menu includes traditional Irish food.
At 8:00 p.m., The Five Irish Tenors will perform at The Playhouse on Rodney Square, 1007 North Market Street in Wilmington. As part of their first American tour, the Five Irish Tenors will perform both traditional and contemporary Irish music on St. Patrick’s Day Eve. Join the celebrate and purchase tickets for only $33 and up.
FRIDAY, MARCH 17
If you care to head down to Milford, that city’s St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl starts at 5:00 p.m. Now in its seventh year, this popular event joins five downtown Milford drinking establishments with local breweries, wineries, and distilleries. You can take part by dropping $18 to $20 for the Pub Crawl t-shirt (rather than an armband) that gives you access to the participating businesses. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy some craft beer and to check out several of Milford’s unique craft breweries.
SATURDAY, MARCH 18
Every year, people, especially beer lovers, look forward to Wilmington’s annual Shamrock Shuttle, which takes off starting at 7:00 p.m. The Shamrock Shuttle sends buses zipping back and forth among fourteen of Wilmington’s finest drinking establishments from 7:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning. This year’s 27th annual Shamrock Shuttle costs $10 for the wristband, which gives you access to all of the clubs taking part. This year’s participating establishments include the 8th & Union Kitchen, Anejo, Catherine Rooney’s, the Chelsea Tavern, Club Lavish, Dead Presidents, the Ernest & Scott Taproom, Firestone, Gallucio’s, Grotto Pizza, Kelly’s Logan House, Timothy’s, the Trolley Square Oyster House, and the Trolley Tap House.
We suggest avoiding the ever popular “green beer” and encourage you to try some of the craft beers made right here by Delaware’s own craft breweries. Like the famous breakfast cereal, you may find that the craft beer brewed in Delaware is “magically delicious” and will add to the fun experience. One last important tip. If you intend to celebrate on St. Patrick’s Day – or the night before – please arrange for some transportation so that you won’t have to park or drive, and you’ll be able to keep the luck of the Irish on your side. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!