JACKSONVILLE, Fla — This year is the 423rd anniversary of the first St. Patrick Day celebration in America. In 1601, the historic procession was held in St. Augustine, Fla. as an authentic center of Celtic-American culture and led by St. Augustine’s Irish vicar, Father Ricardo Artur.
The St. Augustine events pre-date Boston, Massachusetts’s claim to the first St. Patrick’s celebration in 1737 and New York City’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1762.
The St. Patrick Parade, produced by Romanza-St. Augustine, Inc., returns on Saturday, March 11 at 10 am starting at Francis Field and follows a three-mile route through historic downtown and culminates at the Celtic Music & Heritage Festival on Francis Field, 25 West Castillo Drive in St. Augustine, Fla. The Celtic Festival is a two-day celebration of St. Augustine’s Celtic history. For more information, visit https://www.celticstaugustine.com.
The Parade will include numerous live bands, floats, marching units, dancers, horses, carriages, tour trains, trolleys, and more, along the parade route. The Parade will also feature the City of St. Augustine Pipe Band, Coastal Florida Police & Fire Pipes & Drums, JFRD Pipes & Drums, and special guests The Colonial Navy of Massachusetts Fife and Drum Corps.
The 2023 Parade Grand Marshal is Pie in the Sky Community Alliance of St. Johns County. Pie in the Sky volunteers deliver produce to hundreds of low-income seniors and began as a small, grassroots program in Hastings, Fla. in the summer of 2009. The nonprofit provides services for elderly residents in need.
The Parade reviewing stand will be located and hosted by Ann O’Malley’s Irish Pub at 23 Orange Street in St. Augustine. The Parade announcer will be Jessica Clark, award-winning journalist and First Coast News, WTLV-TV news anchor, who has covered St. Augustine and St. Johns County since 2005.
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This year’s Parade judges include Jeff Valin, National Training Coordinator for Historic Tours of America and former First Coast News anchor; Amy Hendrickson, award-winning acoustic solo songwriter and vocalist who has toured regionally and nationally; Davey Hartzel, co-host for The 904 NOW, a local news source reporting in St. Johns County; Renee Unsworth, photographer, social media manager and founder of Totallystaugustine.com, and Dr. Roger Smith, historian with the St. Augustine Historical Society, history professor at Flagler College, and Director of the St. Augustine History Festival.
Romanza is the nonprofit organization that produces the St. Patrick Parade, the Celtic Festival and Romanza Festivale. Its events are funded in part by the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council, St. Johns Cultural Council, Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs, and Florida Council on Arts and Culture.