St. Patrick’s Day celebrations across the Capital Region will look different this year, including those at the Irish American Heritage Museum.
“We’d normally march in the parade, of course, and we’d have a party, [a] family festival back at the museum,” said Elizabeth Stack, the museum’s executive director.
Albany’s St. Patrick’s Day parade will be held virtually on Saturday, with a mix of parade history, guest speakers and Irish music.
It will kick off at 10 a.m. with a traditional mass at Blessed Sacrament Church. Throughout the day, there will be interviews with each of the eight organizations involved in the parade, and guest speakers discussing their personal parade memories.
The Irish American Heritage Museum is taking part in the virtual celebration, though they’re also hosting an exhibit and several events throughout March, which is Irish American Heritage Month.
The exhibit explores the history of Irish dance costumes, highlighting four generations of the Savage/Kenny family’s Irish heritage. Many of the women in the family have been Irish dancing since the 1930s. Sheila (Kenny) Savage immigrated to the United States in 1962 and her grandchildren have danced here since their childhoods, with the Kathleen Lynch School, and the Boland and Farrell Schools too. The exhibit includes several of their costumes, the oldest dating back to the 1950s.
“It’s very much a kind of microcosm for Irish communities across the country because we’re such a close-knit community and multigenerational. Shelia Savage, the original immigrant, [was] fresh from the country but some of the people who ran the dance school were generations apart from their own ancestry but were keeping the heritage alive,” Stack said.
Irish dancing has evolved over the years and become more popular since “Riverdance” came on the scene in the 1990s, led by Irish-American dancers Jean Butler and Michael Flatley.
“It’s transcended too in a way that the Irish community has embraced,” Stack said.
“The music was very thrilling and beautiful but the style of dance was much more [focused on] showmanship. Traditional Irish dancing at home, you keep your arms straight down by your sides. You only move from the waist down. And Michael Flatley in particular had a very energetic kind of display.”
Along with this evolution, the costumes have also changed over the years. In the 1950s, they were relatively plain, though with intricate embroidery work. Modern costumes have much more intricately decorated, and they’re often seen with sequins and rhinestone details.
Beyond the exhibit, which will be up through the month, on Friday, Irish Don Kelly will perform at 7 p.m. on Friday, via Facebook Live. On Sunday, Aindrias de Stac, an Irish comedian and storyteller will perform via Zoom Sunday at 2 p.m. in a program called “Stories, Songs and Shenanigans.” Stac, who is the 2018 Best Radio Comedy Winner, fuses stories, music and myths. Tickets are $10.
There’s also the traditional Sweat-er Run, a 5 and 10K that’s gone virtual this year and goes until Sunday. While the pandemic has changed the museum’s plans for Saint Patrick’s Day and for Irish American Heritage Month, Stack is making the most of it.
“That’s the thing, you want to mark the celebration and I suppose one of the good things is the technology does allow us to gather together somewhat and to celebrate the culture. It might almost make it almost more important that people can tune into see either Irish dancing or to hear a lecture about Irish history or culture . . . we have about 12 offerings this month so if you wanted to celebrate your culture there’s plenty of opportunity to do so,” Stack said.
For more information about upcoming events at the museum visit irish-us.org. The Albany parade can be seen on YouTube and a link will be available on albanystpatricksdayparade.com.
Here’s a look at some of the other celebrations going on across the Capital Region:
In Amsterdam, they’re celebrating the holiday with St. Paddy’s Day Pub Fest Reimaged, which features seven days of specials and giveaways and 17 local eateries.
Organized by the Amsterdam Tourism, Marketing and Recreation Department, it runs from Thursday through St. Patrick’s Day and will include festival giveaways as well as a chance for those who dine in or out to win a raffle.
Participating locations include Lorenzo’s Southside, DomAdi’s Deli, Evolve Eatery, Herks Tavern, Shorty’s Southside Tavern, Creek Stone, G’s Famous Lemon Cookies, Fresh Basil Pizza, Russo’s Bar & Grill, Polish American Veterans Lodge, and others. For a full list visit the City of Amsterdam’s Tourism, Marketing and Recreation Department Facebook page.
In Schenectady, Frog Alley is hosting an in-person concert on Saturday with Scott Simpson, Fritz’s Polka Band and the New York Players. Bands are slated to start performing at noon.
On St. Patrick’s Day, The Linda will present a virtual concert with Get Up Jack.
The Irish American band is led by John Haggerty and Mike DeAngelis, who have played together and with other bands across the United States and Ireland. The show goes live at 8 p.m. on March 17. Tickets are $10. For more information visit thelinda.org.
In Troy, the River Street Market will host a celebration on Wednesday from 4:30-8 p.m., featuring a live bagpiper, corned beef and cabbage and vendor specials. For more information visit riverstreetmkt.com.