Thursday, March 15, 2007

The 34th Annual Kansas City St. Patrick's Day Parade

Information from

Saturday, March 17th, 2007 (St. Patrick's Day!)
Time: 11:00am - 1:00pm

Downtown Kansas City
The Parade starts at the corner of Pershing Rd. and Main Street. It proceeds east on Pershing to Grand Blvd. and continues north on Grand Blvd. to Truman Road.

Plan ahead when arriving...
With the large amount of construction Downtown, plan on arriving plenty early to minimize traffic congestion and leave yourself time to find parking. Please be considerate of the area businesses- without their continued support this Parade would not be possible.

The History of the Parade:
The 19th century Kansas City St. Patrick's Day Parades were pageants of great pomp and circumstance. The Irish Benevolent Society would lead the processions composed of bands, police and fire department personnel and dignitaries of all description from church to church in day long extravaganzas often ending with grand balls.

The festivities were always well reported in the Kansas City newspapers.

The 1875 Kansas City Times declared the Parade to be "the noblest Pageant of the Year".

The first parade in 1873 flowed from the first St. Patrick's Church at Seventh and Cherry from a HIgh Mass celebrated by Irish-born paster Father James A. Dunn, with the assistance of four other Irish priests.

The steadily growing parade crawled through the steep streets of what is now Downtown, stoping at old St. Teresa's Academy. The bands passed therought hte campus's iron gates and were greeted by young ladies who bestowed upon them wreaths of white flowers and shamrocks.

The procession then spilled down the bluff to the newly established Annunciation Church and School ot 14th and Wyoming, where Father Donnelly washed, anointed and blessed a new church bell.

For years uninterrupted, the Irish continued to stage bigger and grander parades. More groups joined in - the police department, the Hibernian Knights, Father Dalton's Temperance Cadets, Select Knights of A.O.U.W., German Catholic societies, the Knights of St. Patrick, labor unions, city and county officials, more divisions of the AOH from Kansas City, Kansas, and other surrounding communities.

The resurrection of the parade:

On Friday March 15, 1974 Daniel Thomas Hogerty led a St. Patrick's Day parade of secretaries, businessmen and shoppers on what would again become a Kansas City Tradition.

The Parade was threatened with respectability in 1977. The presence of four floats, marching units from local Catholic High Schools, bag pipers and an extended route as well as television coverage lent the Parade a hint of credibility. Murphy vowed "no one would ever bring class to the Parade".

By 1978 the crowd viewing the Parade grew to 35,000. Schools sanctioned their students' entry in the event and the route wound over nine blocks through narrow downtown streets. Once again Dan Hogerty led the Parade. In 1979 the route was moved to the Loose Park, mid-town area and ended in Westport. Organizers, participants and onlookers alike soon realized the Kansas City St. Patrick's Day Parade belongs downtown. Much to everyone's delight, the Parade returned downtown the next year.

In 1981, the route extended from the River Market area (River Quay as it was known then) over 16 blocks to end at 11th and Baltimore. The Parade Committee had now grown larger than the 1974 Parade. The Parade organizers boasted a Grand Prize of two round trip tickets to Ireland for the "best entrant". Over 3000 participated in the Parade itself and the onlookers number over 110,000. For the first time in 1981 the Kansas City St. Patrick's Day Parade was reported to be the third largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the Nation. The 1982 revelers went back to basics, emulating their 19 th Century counterparts, by beginning the day with a Mass said by Bishop Sullivan (head of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph). Bishop Sullivan reminded the worshipers of Irish decent that "the Irish are non-conformists and a non-conformist is a non-apathetic person, a responsive person". The route in 1983 moved to where it remains (with the exception of 1995 when it moved a few blocks West when participants marched North along Broadway) to this day. Stepping off at the corner of Pershing and Grand Boulevard, the Parade headed due North along Grand Avenue, a boulevard created for Parades. The two mile Parade (almost 30 blocks) and was viewed by 300,000 onlookers. Monsignor Arthur M. Tighe, Pastor of Visitation Parish, described the Parade as "Kansas City's Mardi Gras". The blossoming of the Parade brought with it "rules" to curb rowdiness and insure the safety of onlookers and participants. The "last entry" in the Parade is now traditionally the street sweepers. In 1999 the Parade crowd was one of the largest ever; reportedly up to 400,000 onlookers lined the Boulevard. Irish Tri-color banners adorned the Boulevard in early March in anticipation of the event. The Parade lasted from 11:30 'til nearly 2:00 p.m. and the clean up continued until dusk.

I don't think any of us ever dreamed our little publicity stunt would turn into a parade two miles long with several hundred thousand spectators," said O'Neill. "We just wanted to drum up a little business for our friend, Danny Hogerty. Today's parade is really a tribute to the popularity and appeal of Mike Murphy, and it's a reflection of the marvelous sense of pride that still exists among the Irish in Kansas City." Jody Watson, the Lone Bagpiper, will, as he has for many years, lead off the march followed by color guards, bands, drill teams, floats of all description and revelers of all sort. During the years the Parade has evolved into the largest single day event in Kansas City and shows no sign of stopping. One thing for sure--Mike Murphy and pals will be present in their garbage truck just to make sure this Parade stays "odd".

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