The city's celebration is older than the country itself, dating back to 1762. Strictly marchers only (no cars or floats allowed), this year's 254th annual parade is led by the Fighting 69th Infantry of the New York Army National Guard. The festivities begin with a blessing from Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, who will celebrate mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral at 8:00 a.m. — not long before crowds start gathering along the parade route.
• Tuesday, March 17, 11 a.m. to approximately 4:30 p.m.
• The parade begins at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue and proceeds north along Fifth Avenue to 79th Street.
The best vantage points:
• Any spot along Fifth Avenue toward the north end of the parade route, far from the midtown crowds and NBC camera crews.
• The steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Ave., at 82nd St.) are a good bet, since marchers often pause outside the nearby American Irish Historical Society.
• Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan officially reviews the parade and greets crowds from the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral.
• Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York and this year’s grand marshal, officially reviews the parade and greets crowds from the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral.
• Bagpipe bands hail from New York and, of course, Ireland.
• High-school bands from across the country.
• Not Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is boycotting for the second year because he says parade organizers still need to do more to welcome gay groups
The television coverage:
• Armchair spectators can tune in to NBC (Channel 4), which will be taping live from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at various points along the parade route. NBC will also be live-streaming here.