For Me, and For This Movement, It All Began At New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade!!
Great marching bands, all in step, and I’m feeling deeply proud as the parade passes by on Fifth Avenue. It’s St. Patrick’s Day, 2011, and then, out of the corner of my eye I see a young man, about 22, holding a can of Bud. He’s totally wasted as are several of his buddies. I notice his tee-shirt which reads “St. Patrick’s Day Today – Hungover Tomorrow”. Without passing judgement, I approached him and ask, “Hey, where’d you get that tee-shirt?” He smiled and said, “Isn’t it cool? I got it at my mall in New Jersey; they sell a million of ’em!!”.
Right then and there – a light bulb went off. “Wow”, I said to myself!! “That’s what this day really is about for so many young people and, for so many not so young, too! Then I thought, what if, instead, we threw a St. Patrick’s Day party next year – with world-class musicians, singers, and dancers – and started reclaiming the true spirit of the day? And, what if we made it family-friendly so anyone, any age could celebrate in a festive party atmosphere without the drunken insanity that has unfortunately, co-opted the image of Ireland’s national holiday for so many. A rip-roaring party – without booze! That’d be a game changer, if we could pull it off!” And so, in 2012, thanks to the then-Consul General of Ireland, Noel Kilkenny, and key leaders from America’s recovery community, Sober St. Patrick’s Day® was born. More than that, it actually exploded – it went through the roof. The new party sold out in advance in New York, and has since spread to other cities here and abroad over these past six years.
We love telling people that we’re not at all against people having a drink or two on St. Patrick’s Day, we’re just against people using it as an excuse to get drunk and making us all look stupid. Having almost lost a family member to addiction twelve years ago, I never realized how abusing “the drink” affects not just the drinker, but the whole family, and how that now equates to 100 million Americans. No joke. And, that St. Patrick’s Day has recently become the #1 (i.e. worst) day of the year for binge drinking among High School and College kids. That said, this year The 6th Annual Sober St. Patrick’s Day® party in New York, will be held on the site where the St. Patrick’s Day parade first started over 250 years ago. On parade day in Manhattan, from 4-7pm on March 17th, “we’re going back to the very beginning” and will celebrate the true meaning of the day with a line-up of world-class musicians, singers, and step dancers. The party will be held at St. Patrick’s Youth Center, 268 Mulberry Street (part of Old St. Pat’s Cathedral) and tickets ($10-$25) are still available at www.SoberStPatricksDay.org. A short, five minute video on the homepage will give anyone a quick snapshot of what all the fuss is about! Tickets for the New York party are still available, so do log onto www.SoberStPatricksday.org. FYI – if you’re elsewhere, the Philadelphia’s party is on their parade day, Sunday, March 12th, and Richmond’s is on March 25 & 26.