Seattle’s Laying o’ the Green Stripe

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.

seattle, laying o the green stripe, st patrick's day, travel, irish, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Waiting for the truck to arrive

seattle, laying o the green stripe, st patrick's day, travel, irish, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Stylin’

seattle, laying o the green stripe, st patrick's day, travel, irish, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Seattle’s Seafair Pirates getting into character

seattle, laying o the green stripe, st patrick's day, travel, irish, ailsa prideaux-mooney

My pirate ship awaits

seattle, galway deputy mayor frank fahy, laying o the green stripe, st patrick's day, travel, irish, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Visiting dignitary, Galway’s Deputy Mayor Frank Fahy

seattle, galway deputy mayor frank fahy, laying o the green stripe, st patrick's day, travel, irish, ailsa prideaux-mooney

The bit where I assure Frank this is an everyday occurrence. Most Seattlites commute by pirate ship.

seattle, laying o the green stripe, st patrick's day, travel, irish, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Arrr!

seattle, laying o the green stripe, st patrick's day, travel, irish, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Pirate ship following the flatbed towards the parade route

seattle, laying o the green stripe, st patrick's day, travel, irish, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Riding through Seattle pirate-style – I could get used to this

seattle, galway deputy mayor frank fahy, laying o the green stripe, st patrick's day, travel, irish, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Getting ready to rumble

seattle, laying o the green stripe, st patrick's day, travel, irish, ailsa prideaux-mooney

The pipers get the show on the road

seattle, laying o the green stripe, st patrick's day, travel, irish, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Everyone took turns, but this is the ‘littlest’ stripe painter of them all

seattle, laying o the green stripe, st patrick's day, travel, irish, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Rogue pirate harassing an unsuspecting diner

seattle, laying o the green stripe, st patrick's day, travel, irish, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Almost dark by the time the stripe reaches Westlake

seattle, laying o the green stripe, st patrick's day, travel, irish, ailsa prideaux-mooney

John Keane putting the finishing touches on the shamrock

seattle, laying o the green stripe, st patrick's day, travel, irish, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Ready for a bit of a twirl around the shamrock

xxx Ailsa

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About ailsapm

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.
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50 Responses to Seattle’s Laying o’ the Green Stripe

  1. Sas says:

    Happy St Patricks Day Ailsa

  2. Paige says:

    This is wonderful! Thanks for the great photos and happy St Patricks Day!!

  3. It’s looks like everyone had a great time. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  4. John says:

    What a fun tradition! And getting it done before it rains too I suppose. 😉

  5. ledrakenoir says:

    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… 🙂

    • ailsapm says:

      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

  6. Looks like a grand time for an Irish girl. 🙂

  7. klrs09 says:

    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!

  8. How fun – and you got to ride with the Pirates. 🙂 We will be in Seattle this afternoon, I’ll look for the green!

    • ailsapm says:

      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. 🙂

  9. Arrr! I love over-the-top street festivals like this 😀

  10. writingrenee says:

    Wish I was there to see it in person. Thanks for Blogging.

    • ailsapm says:

      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.

  11. vastlycurious.com says:

    Great shots- love the little girl!

    • ailsapm says:

      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. 🙂

  12. restlessjo says:

    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.

  13. viveka says:

    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.

    • ailsapm says:

      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.

      • viveka says:

        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.

  14. That little line painter is adorable! The pictures are fabulous and it looks like a fun time was had by all!

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  16. Gunta says:

    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! 😉 )

  17. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Great fun and I love teh shot of the littlest striper!

  18. Nothing like a good party. Thanks for all the great pictures – enjoyed them. The littlest paint striper is so cute – what memories.

  19. bronxboy55 says:

    Where do the pirates fit in? Or doesn’t that matter?

  20. LB says:

    Awesome tradition!! (and I’m glad that Charles asked about the pirates … I was wondering too)

    • ailsapm says:

      I think that’s a Seattle thing first and foremost, LB – the Pirates show up for almost every parade there is in this town. 🙂

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