Irish in New Orleans
The Irish have left their imprint all over the world, and it’s evident from the grand St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in several countries outside of Ireland.
One such place where St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with much fervor in New Orleans. While in most other places, it is just a one-day celebration, in New Orleans, it is celebrated over a few weeks, with parties, parades, and Irish food and drinks.
There is much greater Irish history in the US than most people know. Although New Orleans is better known for its Spanish and French influences, there is visible Irish culture too in the city.
The Irish connection of New Orleans dates back to the 17th century, when several Irish nationals immigrated to the US for a better life. Much of the laborers that helped build the US were of Irish origin. The period around 1830, when the New Basin Canal was built, it was the Irish that contributed the labor.
During the construction of this canal, thousands of Irish workers died from yellow fever. Those who survived started working in the Port of New Orleans and living on Magazine Street. Today, thousands of people in the US are descendants of Irish immigrants. No wonder, St. Patrick’s Day is such a huge celebration all over the country, particularly in New Orleans.
St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans
St. Patrick’s Day is as big in New Orleans as in Ireland. On March 17th every year, New Orleans celebrates the day with parades and parties. New Orleans loves to parade, and this day witnesses people young and old coming out with friends and family to join the fun. More than anything, the day is a perfect excuse to spend some time in the outdoors, basking in the sun and taking part in the merrymaking.
On this day, the whole city is on the streets, carrying picnic baskets, umbrellas, and recreational vehicles. People in walking groups from various clubs dress up in green and distribute beads, flowers, and kisses among the lucky parade-goers. There is music and dance, with the bands playing and the parade-goers dancing.
A big attraction of the day is the floats and truck floats. The parade-goers call out, “Throw me something, Mister!”, and the riders on the floats respond by throwing cabbages, carrots, onions, potatoes, moonpies… and even underwear! The lucky ones go home with a lot of cabbages and carrots, all set for the week ahead! Some even perch themselves somewhere high up, to better catch the throws. Some even take their pets along to join in the fun.
There is usually a lot of work to do after the celebrations are over. The more garbage collected, the higher the success rate of the event. The day after the parade, they announce the amount of garbage collected from the streets!
If you are heading to New Orleans for the St. Patrick’s Day, make sure to dress in green and join the festivities in time!