NEW YORK — Global celebrations of the Emerald Isle’s patron saint culminated in parades and celebrations in Dublin, New York and scores of other cities Tuesday.
Here are St. Patrick’s Day events happening worldwide:
New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade included the first-ever gay contingent marching under its own banner — a group representing gay employees of the broadcaster NBC, a major parade sponsor — but gay activists called the group’s participation an empty gesture.
“We are in the middle of a cultural shift, so we hoped this would be the breakthrough year and we’d be marching up the avenue,” said Brendan Fay, who has been pushing for gay inclusion in the parade since the early 1990s. Fay said his Lavender & Green group applied for a permit. “We didn’t even get a response.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio stayed away from the parade in protest of organizers’ policy on gays, which allows them to march as individuals but not to march officially as a group under a banner.
The parade up Fifth Avenue stepped off with a jovial Cardinal Timothy Dolan as grand marshal.
“I’m as radiant as the sun, so thanks be to God for the honour and the joy,” said the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York.
Donning green in the Oval Office, President Barack Obama promoted U.S-Irish ties as proof of America’s immigrant-friendly tradition.
Obama hosted Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, known in Ireland as the Taoiseach, for their yearly St. Patrick’s Day meeting, then accompanied him to the annual Friends of Ireland luncheon at the Capitol.
Obama defended the executive steps he’s taken to shield millions in the U.S. from deportation, while acknowledging that due to a Republican lawsuit, those actions are “currently tied up in the courts.”
“We share the view that one of the great strengths of the U.S. has always been its willingness to welcome new immigrants to our shores,” Obama said. “That’s what’s made us unique and special.”
Travellers at Boston’s Logan International Airport got an early taste of St. Patrick’s Day on Monday when the Dropkick Murphys staged an impromptu performance.
The band, en route to Ireland for a tour, set up in international Terminal E and let it rip.
The band played a rousing rendition of its hit, “I’m Shipping up to Boston,” altering the lyrics slightly to “I’m Shipping up to Dublin.”
It was chilly in New York and Boston but Tuesday turned out to be a nearly perfect day to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah, Georgia, where the South’s biggest celebration of the Irish holiday began 191 years ago.
By the time the parade kicked off at 10:15 a.m., thermometers were pushing 79 degrees. Matt Gray, who recently moved from Maryland, came to his first Savannah parade wearing a kilt. “It’s amazing,” he said.
President Michael Higgins attended Mass at St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Dublin, where Catholic Archbishop Diarmuid Martin blessed sprigs of shamrock in the traditional start to Ireland’s national holiday.
Hundreds of thousands of Dubliners and tourists lined the nearby route of the Dublin parade, the culmination of a four-day festival featuring music and dance performances, pub crawls, cultural tours and street arcades. Face-painted dancers, eccentrically themed floats and U.S. marching bands snaked their way down O’Connell Street across the River Liffey to St. Patrick’s Cathedral a mile (2 kilometres) away.
A man dressed as St. Patrick — but donning sunglasses and dispensing smart-aleck comments to the crowd, along with playful thumps from his club-like crozier — led the way.
Later Tuesday, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is guest of honour at the White House following weekend visits to Georgia and Texas. Almost his entire Cabinet has spent the past week travelling worldwide promoting Ireland’s tourism, culture and strong rebound from a crippling 2008 banking crisis.
At a barracks in Aldershot, England, Prince William and his pregnant wife, Kate, presented shamrocks to soldiers from the Irish Guards, one of the two Irish-recruited regiments in the British Army.
Kate, 33, handed out baskets of shamrocks and pinned a sprig on the collar of the regiment’s mascot, an Irish wolfhound called Domhnall. The 3-year-old dog was treated to a sip of Guinness at the ceremony’s end.
In Paris, the iconic Sacre Coeur basilica atop Montmartre is being lit up green for the occasion. Irish pubs will be full across the city, from the Green Goose near Place de la Nation to Carr’s by the Louvre.
On the Champs Elysees, the Publicis Drugstore is hosting an Irish meal and whisky tasting. In the Latin Quarter, the 18th-century College des Irlandais is hosting a concert by traditional Irish band Kila.
Pogatchnik contributed to this report from Dublin; Associated Press writers Sylvia Hui in London, Greg Keller in Paris and Russ Bynum in Savannah contributed to this report.