Don’t Miss the St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The 59th Annual Houston St. Patrick’s Parade, produced by the Houston St. Patrick’s Parade Commission, will take place Saturday, March 17, at noon — rain or shine! The parade starts at the Clock Tower at MinuteMaid Park, located at 1800 Texas Avenue, and goes west.
The two-hour parade is a free event, and it has historically been the largest parade in Houston and one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the U.S. with over 100 entries to delight the Irish and Irish-at-heart. This year’s theme is “Houston Strong. Irish Proud.” After the parade, join supporters at Lucky’s Pub for the awards ceremony and after-party!
Rooted in Houston’s Irish History
Houston’s first St. Patrick’s Day parades date back to the 1880s when parades started in “Irish Town” by an old Catholic church located on Harrisburg Boulevard. It became a fun, full-day festival with bands and people carrying flags marching to Market Square to play games, hear music, and enjoy food and drinks before spilling out to the various pubs in Market Square. This tradition continued until World War I, when the Irish population of Houston scattered all over the growing city. Between the Great Depression and World War II, other things took priority in the people’s lives, and the parade disappeared.
Interest in the Irish was re-awakened when Glen McCarthy, a Houston oilman, built the Shamrock Hotel in the late 1940s, and it became the center of Irish culture in the city. Eventually, in 1959, a new St. Patrick’s Day Parade was announced by a local television station for downtown Houston. It was a small parade, only stretching a few blocks, but it planted the seeds of the current parade that continues today. It has grown into one of the city’s largest parades. It carries on the idea, “Everyone is Irish — if only for the day.”
Channel 2 eventually turned the parade over to a small group of Irishmen called the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The parade blossomed, but it also became a financial hardship for the organization, so a new group formed to take over financing the parade.
The Original 45 and Irish 100
The “Original 45” was a group of interested citizens who financially backed the parade and grew the Houston St. Patrick’s Day Parade into the fourth largest parade of its kind in the nation. They hosted the parade for more than 15 years. In the late 1980s, the parade received more financing from the Silver Eagle Distributing Company and moved to Richmond Avenue. But in 2000, the parade returned to downtown and the Original 45, now renamed to the Irish 100, took over financing again.
If you’re interested in personally supporting the parade and taking part in the year-round socials and meetings, you may want to consider becoming a member of the Irish 100 Club. This special group of people are working to preserve the parade and help raise it to a new level. Two current goals are to increase the number of marching bands in the parade and improve publicity efforts to ensure spectators come out to watch the parade.
Member of the Irish 100 Club participate in other fun activities such as the Michael Davitt Irish Open Golf Tournament, the Rory Miggins Memorial Music Festival and Irish Stew Cook-off, and the Grand Marshal’s Reception, which are all becoming quite popular in the Houston community.