One of Baltimore’s earliest St. Patrick’s Day parades may have included an appearance by the patron saint of Ireland himself.
If an article in the March 18, 1791, edition of the Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser is to be believed, “the Saint made his personal appearance, and honored his sons with his presence in a procession through the town.”
The article, recounted in the The Illustrated American in 1895, goes on to say that, “After the procession was over, and the company had partaken of a repast suitable to the day and occasion, at Mr. Brett's, in Fell's Point.” The encounter is said to be the spark that created St Patrick’s Parish in 1792, Baltimore’s oldest active Catholic congregation.
Baltimore has been celebrating St. Patrick ever since though it wasn’t until 1956 that the parade became a regular event. The Ancient Order of Hiberians organized the 1956 parade, the first in 46 years. An estimated 40,000 people turned out along with Archbishop Keough, Governor McKeldin and Mayor D’Alesandro.
Baltimore now holds its St. Patrick’s Day Parade on the Sunday before March 17.
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