Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, 2017

St. Patrick's Day parade participants walking in Royal Oak.

St. Patrick’s Day may not be until March 17th, but communities in and around Oakland County are already gearing up for the festivities. From live music, dances, and theatrical productions – to hearty meals, races, and parades – there’s a St. Patrick’s Day event for everyone! So whether or not you trace your ancestry back to the emerald isle, remember that everyone’s a little Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

Use our list of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in and around Oakland County to make the most out of this special day!

Who was St. Patrick?

  • St. Patrick was originally born in England, and was kidnapped by Irish pirates where he was sold into slavery. After his escape from bondage he became a missionary in Ireland.
  • A hero in Ireland, there are 60 churches and cathedrals named “St. Patrick’s,” with the most famous being in Dublin.
  • The wearing of green is associated with the green hills and shamrocks of the Emerald Isle, although traditionally the color blue was associated with St. Patrick.
  • The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held in New York, but the first observance of the day was in 1737 by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston.
  • In 1996 the first St. Patrick’s Day Festival was held in Ireland as a three-day event, that has since grown to a five day festival that draws roughly 1 million visitors to the area.

Parade marchers sitting on the back of an old model T.

St. Patrick’s Day in Michigan

In Michigan, the largest wave of Irish immigrants came in 1815 when one million Irish Catholics settled in the Detroit area. Today’s festivities commemorate St. Patrick with parades and merrymaking, celebrating Irish heritage in Southeast Michigan and the contributions they made to the American cultural landscape.

Think your family can be traced back to the early Irish settlers of the area? Find a record of your ancestors at the Archives of Michigan to discover more about your family history.


Visit the Oakland County website, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for more news and fun year round.

March of the Marsupial!

Wilder Side of Oakland County

3209Breeding season is risky. To find a mate Didelphis virginiana must scurry across open fields, cross busy highways and negotiate tortuous creek banks flanked with slippery ice in a world full of predators.  Cars, owls, hawks, raccoons, coyotes, fox and domestic dogs all take their toll.  And then, just 12 days after a hastily arranged honeymoon 12 – 20 helpless babies no bigger than honey bees must attempt a difficult fur-clinging climb from the birth canal to the pouch and struggle for the 13 teats as mom waddles about in her solitary ways.  If more than 13 are born to this amazing creature with 50 teeth and a prehensile tail they will not survive.  This is not a creature of myth.  This is the Virginia opossum, a species that thrives close to homes in Oakland County and is found in every Oakland County Park.

3177Opossums are not   ‘big rats’.  They are not even rodents.   They are marsupials (pouched mammals), and one of their closest cousins is the kangaroo.   Opossums have stalked the earth for 70 million years and are the only marsupial found in Michigan.  Hollow trees, abandoned woodchuck burrows, the underside of suburban decks or even abandoned dog houses are perfect den sites.

3214Many suffered from frost bite and others perished in winter; their tails, ears and toes are all furless.  But for those that survived until spring, the county transformed into a world of plenty.  As omnivores they eat anything they find or can kill; the list is long and includes bugs, beetles, berries, worms, bird eggs, fruits, snakes, frogs and road kill. Road kill consumption is a dangerous practice for when frightened opossums freeze in place or flop over flat adding themselves to the roadside collection of entrees.  Although chiefly nocturnal, during the early days of spring warmth they are sometimes seen grubbing about under bird feeders or meandering on still snow covered but sunny trails.

3194Text and photos by Jonathan Schechter, Nature Education Writer, Oakland County Parks.  www.oakgov.com/parks