During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cancellation of St. Patrick’s Day parades statewide saddened locals and visitors alike. Except for our friends who avoid “amatuer night,” most folks look forward to this raucous day of revelry, which celebrates the spirit of Ireland and marks the coming of warmer days ahead. Luckily, the jubilant atmosphere resumes in 2022 with a little extra pomp and circumstance to make up for lost time.
Newport’s iconic St. Patrick’s Day Parade marks its 66th year and first year back since the pandemic put a damper on the Celtic celebration. Grand Marshall Robert “Rocky” Kempenaar, who divides his time between commercial real estate development and countless hours serving on various boards and charities around the city, leads the parade, which steps off from Newport’s City Hall.
Take some time between cheering on local squads of bagpipers and step dancing troupes to stop into Basic Irish Luxury, a local gift shop whose authentic wares harken back to the traditions of yore. The cable-knit woolen sweaters and scally caps are classic, but it’s the wide selection of imported candies that really set this sweet shop apart. I am currently addicted to Nestle Lion Bars, and unafraid to admit it!
For a more educational opportunity, a visit to the Newport Irish History Museum is not to be missed. Anchored in the heart of the Fifth Ward, Newport’s historically Irish epicenter, this small-but-mighty institution highlights the contributions of the sons and daughters of Erin to the City by the Sea. The museum also offers an impressive slate of programming throughout the month of March, highlighted by the Tour of Irish Newport, a complimentary afternoon hosted by Museum President Mike Slein, who wheels guests through decades of Hibernian history in a two hour jaunt aboard a classic red and green trolley.
Newport St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Newport City Hall
11 AM, Saturday March 12th, 2022
Basic Irish Luxury
127 Swinburne Row
Newport Irish History Museum
684 Thames Street
Residents of PVD have feted St. Patrick’s Day as far back as 1835, and this year will be no exception. Girl power is the order of the day, with Grand Marshall Barbara Cottam at the helm of the festivities. Cottam currently serves both as Executive Vice President at Citizens Bank in Providence and Chairwoman of the Rhode Island Board of Education, and her roots trace back to formative years in East Providence baking her grandmother’s famous Irish soda bread for friends and family.
No trip to Providence on any day of the year is complete without a pint and a corned beef sandwich from Murphy’s, a venerable pub that’s been going strong since 1929. With a fun and friendly team doling out quaffs of Guinness to thirsty parade goers and the best people-watching in downcity, you can’t go wrong with a visit to this awesome alehouse!
Providence St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Departs from Smith Street and Hilltop Avenue
11 AM, Saturday March 19th, 2022
100 Fountain St, PVD
Pawtucket’s parade may not receive the hype and buzz of its counterparts in Newport and Providence, but don’t sleep on this spectacular celebration, which ushers in its 40th year. In addition to the parade itself, there’s also the Tour De Patrick Irish 5K (if you’ve ever had the desire to run the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Route, here’s your chance!), and an all-out post-parade bash at the Pawtucket Armory, featuring Gaelic grub and live music by local guitarist and singer Sean Connell.
Pawtucket St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Departs from Pawtucket City Hall
12 PM, Saturday March 5th, 2022
172 Exchange St, Pawtucket