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A Brief History of St. Patrick's Day in Morristown

Updated: Mar 13, 2020

There’s a strong case to be made that the very first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the United States took place in Morristown, New Jersey. George Washington and his army spent the vicious winter of 1779-1780 encamped at Jockey Hollow. After 28 snowstorms pounded the Continental Army’s encampment, Washington sensed his downtrodden army, composed of a substantial number of men of Irish protestant descent, could use a day off as the weather began to break in mid-March.

On March 16, 1780, he decreed, “Desirous of impressing upon the minds of the army, transactions so important in their nature, the general directs that all fatigue and working parties cease for tomorrow the seventeenth, a day held in particular regard by the people of the nation.”

By all accounts, the day was a relatively uneventful, just as Washington intended. His St. Patrick’s Day General Order continued, “At the same time that he orders this, he persuades himself that the celebration of the day will not be attended with the least rioting or disorder, the officers to be at their quarters in camp and the troops of the state line to keep within their own encampment.” Lame.

Fortunately, the ensuing 240 years have seen a more moderate approach to the rioting question take favor as the masses flock to Morristown to take in the Morris County St. Patrick’s Day Parade. An estimated 60,000 revelers attended last year’s parade. While the parade has a “very strictly enforced non-alcohol policy for parade participants,” the statement's focus on parade participants effectively appeases their liability insurance provider as it waves revelers around third and through the doors of Morristown’s dozens of watering holes.

If you're looking to attend this year's parade and come home to traditional St. Paddie's feast, or if you’d rather steer clear of the masses and enjoy your Guinness with a more intimate group in the comfort of your own home, we’ve got you covered. In addition to our regular catering menu, we’ve put together a special St. Patrick’s Day menu of options to enjoy corned beef, cabbage, and our very own Irish Soda Bread with a party of any size this St. Patrick’s Day. We hope to see your Irish eyes in the shop!

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