, NY 14202
Buffalo is so Irish, we have two St. Patrick's Day Parades.
The Valley Community Association’s 18th Annual "Old Neighborhood" St. Patrick's Day Parade is Saturday, March 17th, 2012 at noon. And on Sunday, March 18, 2012
at 2:00 p.m.
, bring the family Downtown and celebrate the luck of the Irish at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade kicks-off in Niagara Square and travels north on Delaware Avenue to North Street.
Join us on Saturday March 17th at noon
to celebrate the historic Old First Ward St. Patricks's Day Parade
Peg Overdorf founded the Old Neighborhood St. Patrick's Day Parade in 1994, a celebration that not only has become a central event in the neighborhood, but also has become the second largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in Western New York.
The parade retraces the original 1913 parade route and focuses on fun, in an entertaining way, the tradition and nostalgia associated with the area. Irish immigrants marched around the Valley and the Ward, the first neighborhoods they settled in Buffalo, in celebration of their heritage and patron saint St. Patrick. Eventually the parade was moved to Main Street and then to Delaware Avenue, its current location.
Ms. Overdorf saw an opportunity to reconnect the neighborhood with its Irish roots by re-instituting the parade. "I grew up in a household where my parents put a lot of emphasis on our Irish heritage. It was always a huge part of our lives. St. Patrick's Day was special! It brought everyone in the family, and everyone in the neighborhood, together. That's what I wanted to recreate with the parade."
The parade started out small, with a little more than twenty marching units participating. Now the parade boasts more than fifty marching units, just about half as many as the downtown parade. The marching contingents represent a broad spectrum of participants including Irish step-dancers, floats, family marching units, marching bands, and local sports mascots. The jobs that the Irish have traditionally held, such as policemen, firemen, and politicians, are well represented in the parade. The Police Emerald Society leads things off, a traditional position that they held in the original parade, with the Fire Emerald Society leading off the second division.
Unions, which have always been an important part of Irish heritage, are also represented, most poignantly by the Scoopers Local 109. "The Scoopers" were the guys hauling the grain out of the boats that came in on the Buffalo River. "They made Buffalo the grain-milling capital of the world," remarked Overdorf.
Perhaps the most striking difference between the two parades though, is the sense of community that the parade promotes. The togetherness reaches not only into the surrounding area, but the entire Western New York region.
What Makes The Parade So Special?
People come from all over for the parade, calling weeks in advance to get information, remarked Overdorf. So what's the appeal?? The downtown parade is just like any other parade, but with an Irish theme. Our parade is more personal. People can identify and connect more. They can imagine what it was like at the turn of the century, their ancestors marching down the same streets, celebrating in the same way. The Old Neighborhood Parade has even come to be known as the "Other Parade."
The Old Neighborhood Parade is special in many ways. For one, Irish flags, embroidered with family names and clans, adorn the parade route. Accounts of the original parade describe the parade route as being spectacularly decorated.
We wanted to incorporate as much of the original parade as possible. It's an awesome sight when the sun is shining, and the flags are blowing in the wind, it transforms the neighborhood, stated Overdorf.
The Grand Marshal also plays a huge role in the parade. The Grand Marshal is selected by the Parade Committee, a group of neighborhood residents and business owners who plan and assist with parade preparations. The nominee must meet certain requirements such as being from Irish descent and their contributions to the community.
We view the Grand Marshal as somewhat of a lifetime achievement award, someone who has quietly, but directly, influenced, helped, and devoted their life to the Old Neighborhood. Our Grand Marshals have been instrumental in preserving the neighborhood that they love so much, expressed Ms. Overdorf.
In 2006, the 13th anniversary of the parade, Ms. Overdorf saw more participants than ever and, as always, a unique celebration of Western New York's Irish heritage. Reflecting on the parade, Ms. Overdorf said "I just keep thinking back to my mother and father and the importance they placed on our Irish heritage. They would be happy with the parade back in the Old Neighborhood, a real community celebration that everyone can enjoy."
Saint Patrick's Day Parade Sunday March 18, 2012
Delaware Avenue @ 2 PM
Bring the family Downtown on Delaware Avenue and celebrate the luck of the Irish at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade kicks-off in Niagara Square and travels north on Delaware Avenue to North Street…don’t forget to wear green!
The annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, is Buffalo's largest celebration of the Irish heritage. The Parade, which begins near Buffalo's art deco City Hall, draws people of all nationalities. The enthusiastic crowds line Delaware Avenue as the Irish dancers, bands, civic organizations, and others march proudly by in celebration and in honor of St. Patrick.
Buffalo, New York, like many other communities throughout the United States, has a large Irish-American population. The richness of Irish culture provides this population with numerous ways to celebrate its heritage throughout the year. Several Irish step dancing schools provide children and young adults with a love for this traditional art, traditional music is available in various venues nearly every weekend, and Irish theater is a highlight of Buffalo's downtown area.
If you would like additional information, you can email us at UIAAparade@aol.com or call Brigid Knott at (716) 875-0282, You can also come to the Buffalo Irish Center (245 Abbott Road in South Buffalo) at 3:00pm on any Sunday until March 9th.
The UIAA elects Patrick Plunkett as the Grand Marshal for the 2012 Saint Patrick's Day Parade!
Patrick has named his brothers Michael, Daniel and John as his Deputy Marshals. Pat has been a member of the Executive Committee of the UIAA for many years, his commitment has grown from helping with the line up of the Parade to announcing at the reviewing stand to chairing the first annual Celtic Challenge in 2011, a four mile run to help fund the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.
Patrick is one of eight children of Patricia (Sullivan) Plunkett and the late John Plunkett, a South Buffalo family. His father John, a veteran of the Korean War was an electrician and served as treasurer of the Buffalo Irish Center (GAAA). Growing up Pat spent time at the Irish Center playing sports in the former gym, volunteering to work bingo and helping the members set up for social events.
Pat graduated from Canisius High School where he played football, baseball and basketball. He received a sports and academic scholarship to attend Hobart and William Smith Colleges. While there he was an All American in lacrosse. His relationship with Canisius High School has continued through the years where he served as Dean of Students and coached many sports teams. His volunteer activities include gathering young people to assist Sr. Johnice at the Response to Love Center. He is now a student at Christ the King Seminary working towards his Masters Degree in Pastoral Care Ministry.
Mr. Plunkett works in the Insurance and Financial Services Industries. Pat and his wife Colleen (Coughlin) Plunkett have four children: Megan, Anna, Sean and Erin. Colleen is a former engineer at WKBW TV and is now a teacher’s aide at Eggert Rd Elementary School in Orchard Park. While Mr. Plunkett’s brothers are his deputy marshals, his sister Margaret, mother Patricia and wife Colleen will lead the grand marshal family entry with his children, relatives and friends. It will be a major family unit in this year’s Parade.
The 2012 Parade is dedicated to the Memory of Catherine M. O'Brien
Catherine Mahoney O’Brien (Kate), who served first as a longtime volunteer giving countless hours over the early years to the administrative work of the Parade and then as an Executive Committee member of the organization. Mrs. O’Brien was elected Grand Marshal in 1984. Her husband and only child Dennis,each held the office of Executive Chairmen for many years and also served as Grand Marshals in 1958 and 1988. The legacy of “Kate” continues with her son as an active member of the UIAA Executive Committee and her grandchildren who continue her love of the Parade as volunteers on Parade Day.
The Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is truly a family tradition in the O’Brien clan.
The 2012 Parade Mass:
Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Edward Kmiec at Saint Joseph’s Cathedral on Sunday, March 18th at 10:30AM before the line up for the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. The Parade will start at 2PM at Niagara Square and proceed north on Delaware Avenue to North Street. Bishop Kmiec will march with the United Irish American Association, which has conducted this memorable Buffalo tradition since 1940.