The Quick 10: 10 St. Patrick's Day Parades

In some cities, it's not St. Patrick's Day without the parade. We have one in Des Moines, but (gasp) I've never been. Ours is small potatoes compared to some of these - here are 10 parades that happen around the world, from Dublin to South Korea, from the biggest to the shortest.

pipers1. New York is home to the longest-running St. Patrick's Day parade not just in the U.S., but anywhere. The parade had meager beginnings in 1762, with a group of Irish soldiers serving in the English military who decided to march through the streets to celebrate their heritage. It grew a bit every year and various Irish groups started assembling their own marches throughout the city. In 1848, a bunch of them decided to get together and form one big march, which eventually became the parade we know today. What started with a handful of Irish soldiers now includes about 150,000 participants and somewhere between two and three million spectators.

2. Boston is also a contender for the longest-running St. Patrick's Day parade "“ legend puts their first parade a whopping 25 years before the New York counterpart. The tale there is one similar to the New York parade "“ the story is that in 1737, some Irish colonists held a small gathering in the street to acknowledge their roots. The History Channel calls New York the first official parade, though - any Bostonians care to dispute?

3. Hot Springs, Arkansas. The boyhood home of Bill Clinton, Alan Ladd and Billy Bob Thornton boasts a parade route that's just 98 feet long. Billed as "The World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade," the celebration is small on yardage but big on star power: this year's parade marshal is Bo Derek. Past marshals have included Pauly Shore, John Ratzenberger, Mike Rowe, George Wendt and Mario Lopez. Entertainment for those 98 feet includes your typical floats, but also the Irish Order of Elvi (Irish Elvis impersonators) and a group of Irish belly dancers.

4. Dripsey, Cork. The parade held in this small village in County Cork is a bit longer than the parade in Arkansas (about 100 yards total), but I like their beginning and end points better: two pubs. Some sources day the parade has been discontinued since a Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001, but others say 2001 was the only year the short celebration was halted. Do we have any _flossers in the know?

5. Montserrat, Caribbean. There aren't many places in the world where St. Patrick's Day is an actual national holiday, but this little island in the Caribbean is one of them. It's known as the "Emerald Island of the Caribbean" because it was founded by Irish refugees, but the celebration on the island is probably the only one in the world that actually celebrates an uprising against the Irish as well as celebrating Irish heritage. In 1768, a group of slaves rebelled against their Irish masters on St. Patrick's Day but were defeated. These days, dancers in parades carry whips and do mock-Irish dance steps to represent the slaves mocking their masters.

6. Dublin, Ireland. Up until relatively recently, Dublin really wasn't the place to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. That is, if "celebrate" means "booze it up" to you. Being a Saint's Day, it was considered a Holy Day of Obligation for Roman Catholic Irish and was solemnly observed - no marching bands and no Guinness at 6 a.m. But Dublin knows a good thing when it sees it, and the American tradition of drunken revelry has spread to their tourism industry. These days, if you want to see a two-hour parade that involves robots, marching polar bears, bees and marching bands from as far away as the U.S. and Japan, Dublin should be your destination.

chicago7. Chicago. You want a green river? Then this is the place to be. The river is dyed the day of the parade, and, "just like recipe for Coca-Cola," the concoction used to make the river look mossy is a closely guarded secret (so says the website). The annual parade has been held since 1843, but the river has only been dyed since 1962.
8. Birmingham, England, hosts the biggest St. Patrick's Day parade in Britain "“ in fact, the parade organizers claim it's the third biggest in the entire world (after New York and Dublin). And while their parade may not be quite as big as the one in New York, they do boast a bigger Feast Day cake. "The cake dwarfs New York's famous three tier green, white, and gold cake which is displayed at the world-famous Waldorf Astoria hotel for the annual parade," the website brags. Birmingham's cake is five tiers and stands 15 feet tall "“ but the bottom three tiers are fake. Should that count? Birmingham sure thinks so. "It was great to see us beating the Yanks on St. Patrick's Day at something," one of the webmasters wrote.

9. Montreal, Canada, celebrated its 186th consecutive St. Pat's parade last weekend. Although the day has been celebrated since 1759 by Irish soldiers of the Montreal Garrison, the first parade on record took place more than 60 years later. Sadly, a 20-year-old student was killed at the parade this year, crushed under the wheels of the float. Officials for the parade are reviewing the incident to determine how to handle next year's crush of people.

10. Seoul, South Korea. You may not immediately think "Erin Go Bragh" when you think of Seoul, but they've held a parade annually since 2001. Attendance was around 20,000 as of 2008 and has been growing in popularity ever since.

Do you have a St. Patrick's Day parade in your town? Have you been to any of these famous parades? Let us know about your experience in the comments.

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.



More from mental floss studios