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Green with Revelry

St. Patrick's Day 2011 Brings Little Respite From Partying, New Location for Block Party

Have a glass of water now that Mardi Gras is over, because here comes St. Patrick’s Day.


The celebration ramps up today in the Irish Channel, a week before the holiday. The Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Club will host its 62nd parade at 1pm on the corner of Felicity and Magazine Sts., following their annual Mass held at St. Mary’s Assumption Church. The floatmakers at Blaine Kern Studios haven't even had a week since the end of Carnival, but their works will be rolling nonetheless. Riders in green derby hats will pelt parade-goers with potatoes, onions, carrots, and the much-desired heads of cabbage. The loudest and luckiest will have the ingredients to make Irish stew - a perfect next-day ailment for all that green beer. The boys of the Irish Channel Corner Club will blow kisses to the girls, while the N.Y.F.D. Emerald Society blows bagpipes to the sky. Carnations will fall from the clouds.


New Orleans began celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in 1809, soon after the first wave of Irish immigrants came here fleeing British persecution in the late 1700s. The Irish were attracted to New Orleans because its French and Spanish residents shared Catholic traditions and a distaste for the British accent. The famine in Ireland in the early 1800s drove more waves of Irish immigrants to New Orleans’ thriving port, where they labored as dockworkers under poor conditions and lived predominantly in the Irish Channel. The City Planning Commission defines the Irish Channel boundaries from Magazine Street to the north, 1st Street to the east, the Mississippi River to the south and Toldeano to the west. Just as the Irish Channel is no longer an Irish neighborhood, St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans is not only celebrated by the Irish. The 1,400 members of the Irish Channel St. Patrick's Day Club are ethnically diverse, with strong ties to the Irish Channel neighborhood.


On the day itself, the annual St. Patty’s Day block party (March 17) has traditionally been held in front of Parasol’s Bar on Third and Constance, but the famed corner bar and po-boy shop switched hands in August of last year. Jeffrey and Jaimee Carreras, the owners of the business since 1998, moved to 2604 Magazine Street
(formerly the Irish Garden), brought their roast beef po-boys with them, and reopened as Tracey’s. The name comes from a bar that once occupied the building on Third and Constance before Parasol’s opened there in 1952. The original Tracey’s relocated to 2604 Magazine Street in 1949, where the Carrera’s have resurrected its name. Perhaps not coincidentally, Tracey's is also on today's parade route.


By the powers-that-be (perhaps the leprechauns), this year’s block party on
St. Patrick’s Day will be held on Magazine Street in front of Tracey’s, instead of at Parasol’s, starting at 11am. There will be green beer, jell-o shots, corned beef, cabbage, and those famous roast beef po-boys.


The Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Club hosts its own block party on Thursday, March 17, 2011,  for its tenth year, in Annunciation Square, all-day, benefitting St. Michael’s Special School.


Below Canal St. on St. Patrick's Day, the Downtown Irish Club Parade starts at 7pm, beginning on the corner of Burgundy and Piety, and ending on Bourbon St.


Then comes St. Joseph’s Day on March 19th. Prior to the 1880-1920 great
migration, Louisiana had the largest Italian immigrant population in the
United States, according to the 1850 Census. In the late 1800s, New Orleans
was a major port of entry for Sicilian immigrants; and now the Feast of St.
Joseph is celebrated citywide.


Out in Metairie, the Louisiana Irish-Italian Parade celebrates both traditions and has two Grand Marshalls – one Irish, one Italian. Eddie Renton Sr., an Irish,
founded it in 1983, while he was the president of the Krewe of Zeus. He had
expanded the Krewe of Zeus to become the largest marching club in the metro
area. Then when the Zeus Marchers were asked not to return to the Metairie
St. Patrick’s Day Parade because the Krewe had grown too large, Renton Sr.
got together with his many Italian friends and started the annual Irish-Italian Parade. The parade will roll at noon on Sunday, March 20, 2011, on its traditional march down Veterans Hwy.


But that's not the only mix of ethnicities on St. Patrick's Day. When Canary Islanders migrated to Louisiana under the Spanish crown between
1778 and 1783, they founded St. Bernard Parish. The parish’s geographical
quarantine from the rest of the city helped the Isleños to preserve their
language and traditions. Isleños here have maintained close ties with family
in the Canary Islands to this day. All bundled up in one, the St. Bernard Irish Italian Isleños Parade will celebrate its 10th Anniversary on Sunday, April 3, 2011, at noon, starting and ending at the Civic Auditorium, 8245 W. Judge Perez Drive, Chalmette.

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