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Photo of a child at St. Patrick's Day parade
A "wee one" enjoys the parade

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The Holyoke St. Patrick's Day Parade
A Local Legacy

When you think of St. Patrick's Day you probably think of four-leaf clovers and leprechauns, right? But how much do you know about St. Patrick himself?

According to legend, St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland. No one really knows if this story is true, since chances are there never were any snakes in Ireland to begin with. Ireland is an island nation that was separated from the rest of the European continent during the Ice Age -- more than 1.6 million years ago. Different tales tell of St. Patrick standing upon a hill, using a wooden staff to force the serpents into the sea, and driving them away from Ireland forever.

Whether or not this is true, March 17 is celebrated as St. Patrick's Day in many parts of the world. Many Irish people immigrated to the United States during the Great Potato Famine of the mid-19th century. Holyoke, Massachusetts, is home to one of the largest St. Patrick's Day parades in North America. It attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators with 15,000 marchers. You don't have to be Irish to participate in or enjoy the parade, but it just so happens that Massachusetts is home to the descendants of many Irish Immigrants.

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