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Buffalo-Niagara celebrates Irish traditions
By Terry Duffy
Come Friday, March 17, and into next weekend, the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebrations will again commence throughout Buffalo-Niagara.
A true celebration of Irish culture, look for a host of happenings big and small in two counties over three days. These include the Old First Ward Shamrock Run and Neighborhood Parade/Irish Hooley in South Buffalo; the “World’s Shortest Parade” in Niagara Falls; countless Irish-themed gatherings throughout the region; civic dinners and Irish dance troops/performances at the Buffalo Irish Center; celebratory Masses in churches; bar crawls in downtown Buffalo; a shopping cart parade in Youngstown; “the grand parade” in downtown Buffalo – it goes on and on.
Bishop Michael William Fisher of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo even granted dispensation from the Lenten abstention from eating meat for next Friday.
Yes, Buffalo Niagara knows how to celebrate the day – so much so that WalletHub rates Buffalo No. 9 out of 200 cities nationwide for 2023 when it comes to its Irish-American heritage, and No. 4 in celebrations of Irish traditions.
Jay Josker of Visit Buffalo-Niagara called this “holiday” a do-whatever-suits-your-fancy type of affair.
“Whether you plan to celebrate for a few hours or all weekend, the best way to experience St. Patrick’s Day is to forget the plan, grab some friends and see where the day takes you. Because there’s always a hooley to be had (with) St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Buffalo.”
So many celebrations, you just might as well call it St. Patrick’s weekend.
Some “goodies” to check out:
•The 39th annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration, presented by the Niagara Falls chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, opens at 4:45 p.m. with the “World’s Shortest Parade” from the corner of Rainbow Boulevard and Old Falls Street. The evening continues with family-friendly Irish-themed activities from 5 to 11 p.m. inside the Niagara Falls Convention Center, 101 Old Falls St.
Look for offerings of traditional Irish foods, beverages, the Restless Souls on stage, and the McCarthy School of Irish Dance on the floor.
Tickets are priced at $10 presale, $15 at the door, with those 12 and under admitted free. Advanced-sale tickets are available online at bit.ly/aohtickets. For more information, visit the Niagara Falls Ancient Order of Hibernians on Facebook.
St. Patrick’s Day 2022 celebrations in Youngstown and Niagara Falls. (File photos)
•Up in Youngstown, Pat Stack’s Somewhere Bar & Grill will host a “Happy St. Paddy’s Day Party” from 4 to 11 p.m. Featured will be the music of the late Bernie Stack and the Irish Wake Band, along with fine Irish cuisine and beverages.
•More St. Patrick’s Day celebrations on March 17-18 include those at the Wagon Wheel in Niagara Falls; the Beach House, DeGlopper VFW Post 9249, Grand Island Moose Lodge 180 and San-Dee’s Pub on Grand Island; the Brickyard Pub & BBQ in Lewiston; and Dwyer’s Irish Pub in North Tonawanda.
•And a can’t-miss is the 12th annual O’Riordan St. Patrick’s Day parade at noon Saturday along Youngstown’s Main Street.
Presented by the Youngstown Business and Professional Association, the parade is held in memory of former Mayor Neil Riordan.
“Neil Riordan would have loved the St. Patrick's Day Parade that has been held every year in his honor since his death in 2011,” the YBPA noted in a release.
Dotty Riordan, Neil’s wife, along with YBPA President Cheryl Irish-Butera, Mark Butera, parade coordinators Colleen Mary Johnson Summerville and Melissa Kudel, and YBPA membership, invite all to attend.
"Neal Riordan loved the village," Dotty Riordan said, noting his 32 years of service to Youngstown, first as a 22-year member of the Village Board, then as mayor for 10 years. "He did everything he could to make sure things worked out for everybody."
The parade begins on Main at Hinman streets, and continues north to Falkner Park, where it does a 360-degree-turn and concludes at the front of the Ontario House (aka The Jug). Robert Emerson, director of Old Fort Niagara, will lead the parade with OFN soldiers. Featured will be a call to arms ceremony in Riordan’s honor at Main and Lockport streets.
Cheryl Butera spoke fondly of the parade’s beginnings.
“This parade began in 2012 with just one decorated shopping cart from then Melloni’s Market and has grown to a legitimate parade with every imaginable display of participants,” she said. “Besides being led by the Old Fort Niagara soldiers, the grand marshal will be Town of Porter Councilman and YBPA liaison Timothy Adamson.”
A large number of participants are expected, including elected officials, the Youngstown and Ransomville volunteer fire companies, U.S. Coast Guard Station Niagara, the Youngstown Lions Club, the Youngstown Village Diner, Ki-Po Chevrolet, Youngstown First Presbyterian Church, Youngstown Free Library, the MacKenzie Highlanders of Youngstown, Lower Niagara Moose Lodge 584, the Niagara Clown Alley and Lew Port Youth football and cheer team members.
New this year will be This Must Be the Place decorating a shopping cart “float” as well as a float sponsored by Peace of Mind Wellness.
“It’s free, it’s festive, and it’s a great way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day,” Cheryl Butera said.
For more information, visit the YBPA event page on Facebook or call 716-745-7989.