Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

If you thought we had marching restrictions, check out the Big Apple

Revellers and parade participants on New York's Fifth Avenue
Revellers and parade participants on New York's Fifth Avenue

THE long list of rules that govern the St Patrick's Day parade in New York might even make a Parades Commission member jealous.

But it also contains some slightly unusual restrictions that would be unlikely to see the light of day here.

Most rules refer to conduct and dress – but the fourth rule on the list governing banners is the one that raises most hackles on this side of the Atlantic.

It states: "The only banners allowed are ones identifying the unit or 'England Get Out Of Ireland'."

Only two flags may be carried by each unit – one Irish tricolour and one American flag.

The rest of the rules are geared towards keeping the event disciplined and maintaining order.

Participants are urged to dress smartly – business dress – and take pride in their heritage, with "oddball dress" strictly forbidden.

The parade must be between eight to 10 abreast, and there should be two marshals for each unit.

Green hats and sneakers are not allowed, nor animals or mascots.

Those on parade cannot eat, drink or smoke during the procession.

The final rule states: "Please remember, you are on Fifth Avenue for one hour once a year and you should march with pride in your heritage and dress accordingly."

The NY march is believed to be one of the largest anywhere in the world.

It took place for the first time in 1762 and is one of the highlights of the year in the Big Apple.

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