- The Washington Times - Friday, March 2, 2007

Just because everyone else goes to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City doesn’t mean you have to do the same. Celebrations of everything Irish in other parts of the country have just as much tradition and can be just as much fun.

The town of Hot Springs, Ark., is a fun place to visit on its own, but for silliness, you can’t beat its celebration of the Irish saint — www.hotsprings.org/festivals-events/stpat-parade.asp — dubbed the First Ever Fourth Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Shortest because it’s on Bridge Street, just 98 feet long. Green fireworks are promised to go with the floats, bands and Irish wolfhounds.

For your days after the March 17 parade and partying, look to the left side of the screen for chapters on things to see and do, including shopping for antiques, fishing and visiting the local Oaklawn Park horse track.

To see what attracts thousands of visitors to Hot Springs the rest of the year, click on Baths & Spas and look for the links to Hot Springs National Park and the historic Fordyce Bathhouse. A soak in one of the area’s hot-spring spas might be just the thing for your post-parade hangover.

St. Patrick’s Day parades started in 1818 in Savannah, Ga. — www.savannahvisit.com — and this year, the celebration goes on for a week, March 10 through 18. Look for the link at the bottom of the page and then click on More Details for the calendar of events. Savannah claims its St. Patrick’s Day on the River is the nation’s biggest St. Pat’s party.

Back at the Savannah home page, look for City Market Winter & Spring Events for shopping, galleries, restaurants and nightclubs in the City Market Art Center neighborhood. Beginning March 15, the Savannah Music Festival presents everything from jazz, blues and bluegrass to chamber music.

What does Erin go Bragh sound like with a Texas accent? The city of Austin — www.keepaustinfun.com — will be the site of the grandly named 1st annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival of Central Texas. Along with the parade, there will be a battle of the bands, open to just about any type of music.

Celebrate in the sunshine of Southern California at the 27th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Family Festival — www.sandiego.org/event/Visitors/443 — around San Diego’s Balboa Park. Along with the March 17 parade and beer gardens, a Celtic village will offer demonstrations of early Irish life. Look for the small link to the parade Web site for details on events, including a Smilin’ Irishman Contest and Miss Colleen Pageant. Then check back on the San Diego home page for other things to see and do, including the San Diego Zoo, and look for places to stay such as the oceanfront Hotel del Coronado, a National Historic Landmark.

For other parades of all sizes, visit St. Patrick’s Day Parade — www.saintpatricksdayparade.com.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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