St. Patrick’s Day parades are a favorite activity this time of year, but many have been canceled due to the pandemic. From 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, March 13, Old Fort Niagara will host an “inverse” St. Patrick’s Day parade. An “inverse parade” allows those on parade and those watching to switch places, maintain social distance and stay safe.
Visitors to the fort will move to dispersed areas in small groups to hear music by the Mackenzie Highlanders Pipes and Drums and Old Fort Niagara’s Regimental Field Music. The fort will present musket and cannon firings accompanied by stories of Irish natives who served at the fort. These include Lt. Col. Eyre Massey, who won the Battle of La Belle Famille – where Youngstown stands today. Massey hailed from Limerick, and made a career in the British Army.
Another prominent Irishman to serve at Fort Niagara was Sir William Johnson, who immigrated to New York from Ireland and rose to become one of the most important figures in colonial America. On March 18, 1747, Johnson wrote to New York Gov. George Clinton, “We kept St. Patrick yesterday & this day & drank your Health & all Friends in Albany with so many Healths, that I can scarce write.”
Storytellers will relate dramatic and sometimes humorous accounts of common soldiers from Ireland who served at the fort during the War of 1812. A cooking demonstration will offer visitors information about Irish foodways during the 18th and early 19th centuries.
Visitors who come in appropriate St. Patrick’s Day attire will receive a discount on admission. Prizes will be awarded for the best costumes in adult and children’s categories. Costumes should allow freedom of movement and visitors are advised to wear practical footwear.
Most activities will be outdoors or in well-ventilated historic buildings. Visitors are required to wear a facial covering and practice social distancing. More information is available at www.oldfortniagara.org.
Old Fort Niagara, currently open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays through Sundays, is a Registered National Historic Landmark and New York State Historic Site operated by the Old Fort Niagara Association (a not-for-profit organization) in cooperation with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.