Hide your pot of gold and start cooking up the corned beef and cabbage, because Saint Patrick’s Day is almost here! This time of year, you’re probably used to seeing some form of the green clover waved through the streets, and various emerald liquors at your local bar. Yes, it seems that nothing draws a crowd quite like the eponymous British saint (yep, British — he was originally from Roman Britain).
While it’s not a legal holiday, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most widely celebrated in America. Every year, folks nationwide go to great lengths to celebrate Irish culture and festivities. While some traditions are a little kookier than others, in the end, it’s all about tradition.
Here are five communities that go above and beyond beer and green garb.
1. Chicago, Illinois
Every year, the Windy City celebrates the day by dyeing the Chicago River green. Coinciding with a parade held on the closest Saturday each year, river dyeing (and observing) starts at 9:00AM. An eco-friendly, vegetable-based solution is infused into the water; much like the holiday spirit, the color lasts for several days. Read more here.
2. Hot Springs, Arkansas
Where can you go to watch Irish Elvis impersonators, belly dancers, and a musical troupe march down the shortest street in the world? Hot Springs, Arkansas of course. Every St. Patrick’s Day, a parade takes over Bridge Street, spreading bright green cheer. Last year it included Dr. Albert Habeeb, the self-proclaimed world’s oldest leprechaun (at 95). And this year, Michael and Kevin Bacon will be there too. Read more here.
3. North Kansas City, Missouri
Snake Saturday is a big deal in North Kansas City. No, it’s not a snake petting zoo. But serpentine floats, design competitions, and a charity cook-off make this event a huge draw. And with nearly 100,000 attendees, Snake Saturday has raised over a million dollars for charity in the last three decades! Read more here.
4. New London, Wisconsin
New London loves this holiday so much so that they change their town’s name for the day! Aside from hosting the state’s biggest Saint Patty’s Day parade (bagpipes and all), a host of leprechauns scout all the city’s public signs — even on the highway — and change the name to “New Dublin.” Read more here.
5. O’Neill, Nebraska
O’Neill is not only Nebraska’s official “Irish Capital,” but it’s also home to the world’s biggest shamrock! No, it’s not a real shamrock, but the gigantic shamrock painted in the town’s busiest intersection is still bound to impress. It also serves as the epicenter of the St. Patty’s Day festivities, which includes a dramatic reading of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. Read more here.
However you choose to celebrate on March 17th, take a moment to show your appreciation for America’s downright unique St. Patrick’s Day traditions. And as the Irish say, “Bottoms up or bottoms down, either way, no one will frown!”