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Strangest St. Patrick’s Day Traditions (You Didn’t Know About)
March 17, 2023   |   Jillian Letourneau

If you’re near Devonshire and not wearing green, it’s safe to say you’ll get pinched this time of year. The international holiday of St. Patrick’s Day is a celebratory tradition, honoring everything Irish on March 17th. 

Outside of the traditional American fare — leprechauns, an abundance of green beer, city rivers everywhere going green — there are numerous strange St. Paddy’s traditions we at Devonshire didn’t know about: 

New Dublin 

New London sounds like a strange name for a city in Wisconsin of all places. When March arrives, leprechauns influence locals to change the city part of their name. The tradition of rebranding the area as “New Dublin” stems from the wave of Irish immigrants that altered New London’s German cultural profile in the 19th century. 

During the week, there are Celtic-themed dance lessons. Folks exclusively eat corned beef and cabbage, chased down by a cold glass of green beer. People adorned in leprechaun attire visit hospitals, clubs, and schools. A parade includes a staged adaptation of Finnegan’s Wake

Shortest Parade In The World 

Over in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Bridge Street hosts one of the shortest parades in the world. Named “The Shortest Street In Everyday Use In The World” in the 1940s by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, this 98-foot stretch is the location for an hour-long celebration that features a Blarney Stone Kissing Contest. Performances in the past have hosted the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, Smash Mouth, and Three Dog Night. The city also features a St. Patrick’s Day Zero K race, designed for athletes who really don’t want to break a sweat. 

Portland, Maine Plunge

Maine isn’t the warmest state in America and St. Patrick’s Day really attracts those that prefer frigid temperatures. At 5:30 am each March 17th, swimmers brave the Paddy’s Day Plunge. Attendees jump straight into the freezing Atlantic Ocean before the sun comes up. The bad news: water temperatures are at 12-month lows in Portland during March, with lows of 37.8°F. Those who brave the frozen waves enjoy a free Irish breakfast, a live auction, and a raffle at a nearby restaurant.  To date, the event has raised over $350,000 for the Portland Firefighters Children’s Burn Foundation. 

One Giant Shamrock 

There’s a giant shamrock in O’Neill, Nebraska

The official Irish capital of the state, the large painted three-leaf clover is located directly in the road, at the intersection of Route 281 and Highway 20. 

Visitors to the city during St. Patrick’s Day will see a lot of bizarre happenings. 

The festivities conclude with the crowning of the St. Patrick’s Day King and Queen. The tradition goes beyond March; on the 17th of every month, every resident wears green in honor of the town’s Irish heritage.

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