Welcomes you to the Delray Beach Annual
St. Patrick's Day Parade & Festival!

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History

15

Delray Beach St Patrick’s Day Parade

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is an annual tradition in Delray Beach that began in 1968 with a Irish local pub owner by the name of Maury Powers, who took a stroll down Atlantic Avenue with his Shillelagh and a green pig named Petunia and declared it “My own parade.”

Since then, a group of Emergency Service’s personnel stepped in to add a civic theme to the parade that has had uniformed police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel from all across the United states and as far away as Belgium, Ireland, Australia, and Canada come to participate in Delray Beach’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and represent their communities.

The citizens of Delray Beach continue to support the St Patrick’s Day Parade in bringing a sense of community unity and presenting a positive role model image for children. Uniformed Emergency Service ambassadors, representing communities from around the country and from around the world are blended in with commercial, civic, charitable, educational, and social groups from the local area. The event has evolved and grown over the years to become Florida’s premiere parade!

Every year a different organization, municipality and / or region is put up front to lead all of the other communities that are represented by the uniformed personnel. To date, the following communities have been showcased up front to lead the parade …..

2009 – Martin County
2010 – Miami Dade County
2011 – Pompano Beach
2012 – Delray Beach
2013 – Belgium and Australia
2014 – National Fallen Firefighter Foundation

Irish Heritage with Police Officers and Firefighters

Following the great potato famine in Ireland during the 18th century many Irish immigrated to the United States of America, bringing their traditions with them. Work for these immigrants was often very difficult to find. Factories and shops displayed signs reading “NINA” meaning No Irish Need Apply. The only jobs they could get were the civil service jobs that were dirty, dangerous or both — firefighters and police officers — jobs that no one else wanted. Both of these careers were considered undesirable due to low pay, few benefits, and poor working conditions. The Irish gladly accepted these careers because it was a way to become a part of mainstream America, and it was a way to give back to their new country.

The Irish transformed the job of night watchman and fire watch into the organized police and fire departments we see today. Gradually, the Irish started many of the traditions that are still in existence today. The Irish-American police officers and firefighters would march in full uniform at various parades across the United States, including the St. Patrick’s Day parade. They were very proud of their Irish heritage, and equally proud of being a police officer or firefighter.

Now being a police officer or firefighter is a badge of honor and respect. Today, both professions continue to march in parades in full dress uniform to show their pride as part of this great country and serve as positive role models to the next generation of all nationalities.

Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick, who lived during the fifth century, is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. Born in Roman Britain, he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He later escaped, but returned to Ireland and was credited with bringing Christianity to its people. In the centuries following Patrick’s death (believed to have been on March 17, 461), the mythology surrounding his life became ever more ingrained in the Irish culture: Perhaps the most well known legend is that he explained the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) using the three leaves of a native Irish clover, the shamrock.

Since around the ninth or 10th century, people in Ireland have been observing the Roman Catholic feast day of St. Patrick on March 17. Interestingly, however, the first parade held to honor St. Patrick’s Day took place not in Ireland but in the United States. On March 17, 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as with fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.