The Running of the Boys

Aye, on this St. Patrick’s Day, we thought it lucky to credit the U.S. military with the founding of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. 

According to some sources, the first official St. Patrick’s Day Parade, organized by Irishmen in a colonial military unit, was held New York City in 1766. For several years, the military continued to organize the event. After 1811, Irish fraternal and charitable organizations took over this “running of the boys.” 

There have been other military ties to the patron saint of Ireland — some honorable, others infamous. It seems there was a St. Patrick’s unit in the Mexican Army during the Mexican-American War (1846-48) comprised on U.S. deserters. Sources say they deserted because of American atrocities. Regardless, the men of El Batallón de San Patricio were viewed as traitors, and most met an untimely and tragic end. 

Aye, but we digress. Military units still march in the New York parade and most, if not all, the many parades across the country, though their participation is dwarfed by that of civilian bands, dancers, and even a number of politicos (if you can believe that one!). 

Though not a military event, the St. Patrick’s Day cabal is a sight to behold in the City of Our Lady of Perpetual Decay. Never a hamlet to turn down an opportunity to parade or drink (or both), St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans is a must see. During the recent Inside the Headquarters Road Show, our staff had the fortune (aye, luck of the not-so-Irish) to catch the St. Patrick’s Day Practice Parade. As so eloquently put by one of the participants, “You have to be able to drink and walk.” He took a sip of his drink and wandered off. What might be considered marginal behavior by some (say, we in D.C.) seems pretty normal and even admirable when you’re observing (reveling) first-hand here in this City that Time Forgot. 

Oh, and this was the running of the boys. All male. Guys only. Chicks need not apply. Anywhere else, this would be grounds for a declaration of war. Here, for a bunch of beads and a few kisses, it’s amazing what one will overlook. Hey, even one male member with our staff was invited to run with the boys next year. Aye!
If you have nothing else to do next March, check out this or the actual St. Patrick’s Day parade in New Orleans. (The Italian St. Joseph’s Day parade runs a week earlier.The revelers we encountered seemed quite the gentlemen and were to parade in tails in the actual event.


How do you say “Laissez les bon temps rouler!” in Gaelic?

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