By DON GLYNN
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — NIAGARA FALLS — It’s the day when nearly everyone is Irish but there’s more than just St. Patrick to celebrate here on Sunday.
In addition to paying tribute to the patron of the Emerald Isle, it’s the anniversary of the City of Niagara Falls, chartered by New York state on March 17, 1892.
In Niagara Falls, the Ancient Order of Hibernians — the Rev. James J. Browne Division — and the Ladies AOH will host the city’s official St. Patrick’s Day celebration from 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday at the Conference Center-Niagara Falls, Rainbow Boulevard. Prior to the party indoors, the AOH will stage what has become known as “The World’s Shortest Parade,” kicking off at 4:45 p.m. at the corner of Old Falls Street and proceeding about 75 feet to the conference center entrance.
St. Patrick’s Day actually marks he date of his death, March 17, 493, at a monastery in Ulster. The date and place of his birth is uncertain. Historians note that as a teenager Patrick was taken captive to Ireland and forced to work as herdsman. After escaping from those dreary chores, he studied for the priesthood and later, as a bishop, helped convert Ireland, then a pagan nation.
Michael Maloney, a local attorney and longtime AOH member, noted that documents show that when the Legislature approved the charter to incorporate Niagara Falls on March 16, 1892, state Assemblyman T.V. Welch, a local resident, asked the governor to delay signing the papers for one day so the city could become a “St. Patrick’s Day” baby.
Michael McNerney, a former AOH president and a veteran chairman of the annual party, said this year’s event is expected to attract upwards of 2,500 persons. The party was originally held at the former State Armory on Main Street before it relocated to the Convention and Civic Center (now the Seneca Niagara Casino). Subsequently it was moved to the Conference Center Niagara Falls when that opened.
When McNerney heard that Youngstown was promoting its St. Patrick’s Parade Saturday as the “World’s Shortest”— from the Stone Jug Restaurant to Brennan’s Irish Pub, less than 30 yards away — he said that he would look into the claim. “I may go and count the steps there,” he quipped, referring to the village event in tribute to the late Mayor Neil C. Riordan.
In 2011, the AOH acquired a place to call its home, the former LaSalle Lodge 1049 (F&AM), at 9020 S. Military Road, Niagara Falls. The two-story, 2,700-square-foot building was built in the 1850s — about 10 years before the Civil War —and served as the town hall long before LaSalle was annexed by the City of Niagara Falls.