This year’s will march down Michigan Avenue, starting promptly at 2:00pm. The parade begins at Sixth Street and heads west, ending on Fourteenth Street by Roosevelt Park. The event is sponsored by the United Irish Societies, and will feature high school bands, pipe bands, drum bands, the color guard, clowns and floats. Last year’s parade attracted over 65,000 people and 3,500 participants.
The Cork Town Race
The parade is not the only event taking place that day. At 11:30 am, the Kid’s Quarter Mile kicks off, followed by the 5 km Cork Town Race, which begins and ends at the Michigan Central Station and follows part of the parade route on Michigan Avenue. Over 10,000 runners are expected to participate.
“The whole day is a celebration of the Irish community in Detroit and all they do for the city,” said Parade Chairman Michael Kelly. “The Detroit-Irish are proud of their homeland and heritage, and the parade says a lot about this community.”
History of Corktown
Corktown’s heritage can be traced back to the Great Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s. Thousands of Irish immigrants came to the United States, and many settled in Detroit. In just over ten years, half of the area now known as Corktown was made up of residents with Irish descent. The area was also home to Tiger Stadium, which has since been demolished, but the field is still maintained by volunteers. Today, Corktown is on the rise, attracting new residents and businesses to an already vibrant neighborhood, which includes Slows Barbeque and the Mercury Burger Bar among others.
Part of Something Greater
The parade and Irish community in Detroit play a very important role in the city’s revitalization, as the people of Corktown have been working hard to improve the city. Through charity work, food drives, soup kitchens and numerous other generous contributions, the Corktown community has done much to help the area.
“As we promote the city of Detroit, the Irish community here does many great things,” said Kelly. “This community gives a large amount of charitable time and resources to make Detroit a better place. The parade is just one example.”
This year’s theme is “Detroit Irish – Proud of Homeland, Heritage and Heroes” and will be grand marshaled by Nora Cassidy, a longtime contributor to the community and United Irish Societies. The parade will also honor fallen West Bloomfield police officer Patrick O’Rourke, whose badge number was 55; a fitting tribute for the 55th annual parade. A memorial brick will be placed in O’Rourke’s honor at the Irish Plaza on Sixth Street and Michigan Avenue.
“It is important to remember our cultural history,” said Kelly. “Based on our relatives; our grandparents and great-grandparents, Corktown is an obvious place to hold the parade. This is a great event for the whole family.”