The Pittsburgh St. Patrick’s Day parade has been a staple for the city of Pittsburgh dating back to the mid-1800s. Over the years, it has evolved in scope and planning until it formed what it is today; the third largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the country. The following is a brief history of the parade; compiled by Michael R. Murphy.
Some of the earliest records of St. Patrick’s Day parades in the city of Pittsburgh date back to 1869. From the beginning, the parade featured a number of Irish groups. In 1871, the “Confederated Irishmen of Lawrenceville,” a group made up of 175 men, proudly marched while wearing sashes proclaiming “God Save Ireland.” The parades of the past typically ended at St. Paul’s Cathedral Parades never took place on Sundays and routes changed drastically over the years.
Despite the well-known notion that the Pittsburgh St. Patrick’s Day parade takes place “rain, snow, or shine” there have been a few instances where the parade did not take place, due to the weather. In 1903, a fierce storm covered the area, prompting the cancellation of the parade. During 1956, the parade was officially canceled due to an impending snowstorm. However, an impromptu parade took place, despite the nine inches of snow on the ground. Pittsburgh Police Chief Maloney initially decried the parade, but eventually relented and joined the 200+ men marching down Fifth Avenue. The parade also took place during the Blizzard of ‘93 – the worst snowstorm in 100 years.
The parade took a brief hiatus from 1904 until 1950, when it was resurrected during Mayor David L. Lawrence’s tenure. There has been a parade every year since 1950, and has been cemented as a staple in the Pittsburgh community and one of the largest parades in the country.