Growing up Irish in Metro Detroit means being a part of a thriving Irish-American community that celebrates cultural heritage year-round. Every March, the tradition of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day comes around, and over the years I have participated in my Irish-American community’s events that have deep cultural roots right here in Detroit. Read along for some of the best ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Detroit.
2020 marks the 62nd year Irish Americans in Detroit will gather and walk the parade route down Michigan Avenue and convene at the Gaelic League of Detroit. Each year, they honor a member of the Irish-American community with the title of Grand Marshall. In 1997, I marched in my first Detroit St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and my uncle, Roger McCarville, was bestowed with this honor. This year that honor belongs to Peggy Sullivan.
Click here for more information about this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The parade goes on rain, snow, sleet, or sun. March weather in Michigan has made it interesting over the years to prepare for the annual march down Michigan Avenue. Therefore, come prepared!
Because the month of March is filled with events to support the parade and the Irish community, all are welcome to enjoy the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, whether you are Irish or not.
The parade also hosts the annual Painting of the Shamrocks in front of the Gaelic League on the Friday before the parade.
A newer feature that the parade offers is the Family Fun Zone. Limited tickets are available to purchase online ($12 per person or $60 for a family of six) that include reserved parking, accessible restrooms, grandstand parade seating, Irish dance lessons, and more.
You can also sign up for one of the largest 5k races in Michigan, the Corktown Races. It’s a great way to kick-off the parade, and in addition, raises funds for the St. Patrick Senior Center.
Religious and Traditional Events
The holiday of St. Patrick’s Day is traditionally a religious holiday for the Irish Catholic, which means we celebrate with a mass. Most Holy Trinity Church hosts a pre-parade mass followed by a luncheon (suggested donation $8 per person or $30 per family) with proceeds benefitting the St. Patrick Senior Center.
For an authentic place to celebrate on Parade Day and St. Patrick’s Day, the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) Hall in Redford is my pick for a family-friendly place to celebrate. There is a diaper-changing station in the handicapped restroom, and it is free to enter on Parade Day and St. Patrick’s Day. Come enjoy live Irish music, Irish dancers, and food available to purchase.
If you are looking for more traditional events to attend in March or to be a part of throughout the year, I was fortunate enough to have participated in the parade in my youth as a member of the AOH’s Court of St. Brigid Scholarship Program and the United Irish Society (UIS)’s Queen of the UIS Pageant (formerly the Maid of Erin pageant).
I grew up celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Detroit, and I happily take my children every year. I treasure the memories I made participating in and learning about my Irish heritage. As a mother of three under five, I am eager to pass on the traditions to my daughters.