The very first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Seattle was held in 1972 and the first honorary Grand Marshal was a well-known Seattle couturier and fashion icon, John Patrick Bishop. John was the logical choice for Grand Marshal, because for years before an official parade was instituted, he took it upon himself to paint a bright green stripe down the centre of 5th Avenue the night before St. Patrick’s Day, dodging police along the way. He used regular paint which was hard to remove and led to him being arrested. A lot.
To honour his memory, Irish Seattlites gather the night before the St. Patrick’s Day Parade to paint a bright green stripe along the parade route. Nowadays, they use traffic powdered paint which is far easier to remove and far less likely to get you arrested. In fact, the Seattle Police Department provide an escort all along the route to stop traffic as the green stripe painters pass through intersections.
It’s an awful lot of fun. I went down yesterday to check it out and produced a short video on how Seattle prepares for Paddy’s Day in 9 easy steps. Watch out for the pirates! Arrr!
Here are a few photos from yesterday’s Laying o’ the Green Stripe.
Waiting for the truck to arrive
Seattle’s Seafair Pirates getting into character
My pirate ship awaits
Visiting dignitary, Galway’s Deputy Mayor Frank Fahy
The bit where I assure Frank this is an everyday occurrence. Most Seattlites commute by pirate ship.
Pirate ship following the flatbed towards the parade route
Riding through Seattle pirate-style – I could get used to this
Getting ready to rumble
The pipers get the show on the road
Everyone took turns, but this is the ‘littlest’ stripe painter of them all
Rogue pirate harassing an unsuspecting diner
Almost dark by the time the stripe reaches Westlake
John Keane putting the finishing touches on the shamrock
Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall.
And I’m just getting started.
If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - wheresmybackpack.com - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
Happy St Patricks Day Ailsa
You too Sas. 🙂
This is wonderful! Thanks for the great photos and happy St Patricks Day!!
You too, Paige, glad you enjoyed it. xxx
It’s looks like everyone had a great time. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Lots of fun all around, Jill, have a good Paddy’s Day too! xxx Ailsa
What a fun tradition! And getting it done before it rains too I suppose. 😉
I adore local traditions like this, John, they really keep life interesting – and there wasn’t a raindrop in sight. The forecast isn’t looking so good for parade day though – there’s a 90% chance of rain. Not much wiggle room there!
Well, it’s better than this evil white stuff falling outside just now. 😉
Yikes, stay warm John, maybe it’s time for a hot toddy? xxx
My office is toasty enough for now. 😉
Wonderful photos… 🙂
Here in Liverpool there’re so many irsh people – that’s wonderful, really love that – they reminds me of the people from the part of Denmark where I was born (Jylland) – so I really look forward for St. Patrick’s Day, when landing at John Lennon Airport later to day after my visit home in Denmark since last thursday… 🙂
I spent Christmas in Liverpool a couple of years ago, it’s a wonderful city, and I bet St. Patrick’s Day is great over there, there’s a huge Irish influence. xxx
Looks like a grand time for an Irish girl. 🙂
Oh yes indeed, it was a whole lot of fun, the entire week. Hoping to catch up on my sleep now that it’s over. 🙂
Looks like a lot of fun. here in the land of ‘lots of snow’ it’ll be green beer inside some warm and cozy pub!
Oh dear, hope you kept warm. There hasn’t been a single flake of snow this winter in Seattle. Very strange indeed.
How fun – and you got to ride with the Pirates. 🙂 We will be in Seattle this afternoon, I’ll look for the green!
Did you make it to the parade? I ended up walking in it with a few pals of mine, it was pretty funny, and somehow also ended up in the dignitaries’ box with the Mayor of Seattle and St Patrick. It was a total hoot. 🙂
What a great experience! We didn’t make it to the parade but were at the Paramount for the Mythbusters show that afternoon. Maybe next year. 🙂
Arrr! I love over-the-top street festivals like this 😀
Me too, anything involving pirates is ok by me. Arrr!
What a great Gravatar icon 😀 – it’s new, isn’t it?
I’ve been using it for a while now, I had a lot of fun coming up with it 🙂
Wish I was there to see it in person. Thanks for Blogging.
It was a whole lot of fun, Renee, I wasn’t expecting it to be such an event in Seattle, but the irish Heritage Club pulled out all the stops and put on a whole week’s worth of events.
Great shots- love the little girl!
Thanks, I had to get a shot of her, she was soo cute with that massive hat, I don’t know how she stood up with it on her head. 🙂
Thay look to be a crazy lot in Seattle, Ailsa! But great fun. I’d never get that shamrock shape right, but I wouldn’t mind a curly wig.
I’d have had a bit of trouble with that shamrock too, Jo, John made it look easy!
You Americans are mad about St Paddy day .. then the Irish are *smile – lived on Ireland and things gets green … there too, but not so mad as over in US. Was one year in NYC during the parade and it was full snowstorm and freezing, but the parade went on the the small little Irish dancer was purple in there dresses … freezing. Love your little video and the music … Seattle I miss you again now.
The photo with the young girl or boy is brilliant.
You’re right, viveka, growing up in Ireland we never did anything like the stuff they do over here, although nowadays that has changed, mostly because of tourism. The US has always been in a league of its own when it comes to parades.
There lives more Irish in US than on Ireland and the Americans has to do everything bitter than others *smile
Only in their nature – and that is one of the sides I love about American’s, they are big kids at heart.
That little line painter is adorable! The pictures are fabulous and it looks like a fun time was had by all!
It really was a whole lot of fun, Gemma, I love these local traditions that change the whole experience of a holiday. 🙂
I know. We have parades here in town and it’s so much fun seeing old students of mine riding on wagons and floats. Such a blast!
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What fun! Here’s mine…
These are wonderful, I love the aquarium shot! 🙂
I love the aquarium – period! :-D. Such a fun, photogenic place. Thanks for the visit, Ailsa. 😉
Boston is another town that does up the St Paddy’s in style. Happy St Paddy’s to you!
(and I love the knees on the piper with the white boots! 😉 )
Oh I bet Boston was wild, Gunta. Your comment made me go back and check out the piper’s knees, good one. 🙂
Great fun and I love teh shot of the littlest striper!
She was adorable, her hat was almost bigger than she was!
Nothing like a good party. Thanks for all the great pictures – enjoyed them. The littlest paint striper is so cute – what memories.
She was such a cutie 🙂
Where do the pirates fit in? Or doesn’t that matter?
Haha, no idea. Charles, but I didn’t care, pirates are cool. 🙂
Awesome tradition!! (and I’m glad that Charles asked about the pirates … I was wondering too)
I think that’s a Seattle thing first and foremost, LB – the Pirates show up for almost every parade there is in this town. 🙂