About the KC St. Patrick's Day Parade
Celebrating the Irish in Kansas City Since 1974
In 1973 a group of friends meeting for a quick (or otherwise) drink and a bit of conversation at Hogerty’s Cocktail Lounge in downtown Kansas City decided a Parade downtown was just what the City needed; and so it began again. Radio talk show host Mike Murphy, P.R. person Pat O’Neill, SR. and local saloon keeper Dan Hogerty’s brainstorm came alive in Kansas City.
On Friday, March 15, 1974 Daniel Thomas Hogerty led a St. Patrick’s Day parade of secretaries, businessmen and shoppers on what would again become a Kansas City Tradition. The block and one half parade route led from the Continental Hotel back to Hogerty’s lounge, of course. Billed as “the world’s shortest and worst parade” it drew hundreds of people to what became a downtown street party in the 1200 block of Baltimore.
By 1976 Hogerty, O’Neill, Murphy and friends were joined by the honorable Mayor Charles Wheeler and the parade featured a painted green calf along with several dogs and a goat. The City graciously parked a trash truck on Baltimore Avenue to collect the empty beer bottles.
The Parade was threatened with respectability in 1977. The presence of four floats, marching units from local Catholic High Schools, bag pipers and an extended route as well as television coverage lent the Parade a hint of credibility. Murphy vowed “no one would ever bring class to the Parade”. As long as he had anything to do with it (the Parade) it would remain “odd”. This was the year the Ancient Order of Hibernians returned to the Parade. The Ancient Order of Hibernians were organized in Kansas City in the 1870′s and participated quite grandly in the early Parades. The present day Hibernians descend from the original Parade entrants of the 1800′s.
By 1978 the crowd viewing the Parade grew to 35,000. Schools sanctioned their students’ entry in the event and the route wound over nine blocks through narrow downtown streets. Once again Dan Hogerty led the Parade. In 1979 the route was moved to the Loose Park, mid-town area and ended in Westport.
In 1981, the route moved back downtown and extended from the River Market area (River Quay as it was known then) over 16 blocks to end at 11th and Baltimore. The Parade Committee had now grown larger than the 1974 Parade. The Parade organizers boasted a Grand Prize of two round trip tickets to Ireland for the “best entrant”. Over 3000 participated in the Parade itself and the onlookers number over 110,000. For the first time in 1981 the Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade was reported to be the third largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the Nation.
The 1982 revelers went back to basics, emulating their 19th Century counterparts, by beginning the day with a Mass said by Bishop Sullivan (head of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph). Bishop Sullivan reminded the worshipers of Irish decent that “the Irish are non-conformists and a non-conformist is a non-apathetic person, a responsive person”.
The route in 1983 moved back downtown, stepping off at the corner of Pershing and Grand Boulevard, the Parade headed due North along Grand Avenue, a boulevard created for Parades. The two mile Parade (almost 30 blocks) and was viewed by 300,000 onlookers. Monsignor Arthur M. Tighe, Pastor of Visitation Parish, described the Parade as “Kansas City’s Mardi Gras”. The blossoming of the Parade brought with it “rules” to curb rowdiness and insure the safety of onlookers and participants. The “last entry” in the Parade is now traditionally the street sweepers.
In 1999 the Parade crowd was one of the largest ever; reportedly up to 400,000 onlookers lined the Boulevard. Irish Tri-color banners adorned the Boulevard in early March in anticipation of the event. The Parade lasted from 11:30 ’til nearly 2:00 p.m. and the clean up continued until dusk.
In 2009, the Parade moved to Midtown starting at Linwood and Broadway and proceeding south along Broadway to 43rd Street. The area around Redemptorist Catholic Church where the Parade starts was traditionally called Kerry Patch in the 1800s after the large Irish immigrant population living there. Many of the stone buildings in the neighborhood were built by Irish with limestone quarried by Irish in the Penn Valley Park area.
The Kansas City St. Patrick's Day Parade is organized and staffed by a group of volunteers devoted to providing Kansas City with a family-oriented parade celebrating the Irish heritage of our city and its citizens. The parade committee is a non-profit 501c3 organization.
Support the Parade
Our parade is completely self-funded through grants, fundraisers, sponsorships and donations from the community. If you would like to help ensure that the KC St. Patrick's Day Parade continues to provide entertainment for Kansas City, please consider making a donation via the button below! All donations are tax-deductible.