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Dane County Shamrock Club, Inc.


Madison's St. Patrick's Parade History

A survey of Madison newspapers between 1890 and 1980 indicates Madison has likely had three waves of St. Patrick's Day parades. Students in the UW Engineering School sponsored the first wave of parades. These appear to have run off and on from 1912 to 1937, occurring the week after St. Pat's, possibly due to winter break. The engineering students' enthusiasm sparked a fierce rivalry between the engineers and the Law School students. The parades were banned by the UW in 1940, although the rivalry continued.

"Photo from WHS Collection"

The Dane County Shamrock Club began the second wave of parades. While they didn't draw press coverage from the mainstream newspapers, stories from long-time members suggest these ran from the year after the chapter was formed until the time they began holding events in the State Capitol. This would be during the years 1976-1978.

Former UW student Katie O'Phelan started the current wave in 1998. Volunteers who began with her in a very cold and wet 5:00 p.m. parade are still behind the scenes in lining up donors to pay for the bands and other entertainment joining in the parade. They encourage you to join them.

In September 2005, the first Half-way Hooley was held at Capital Brewery in Middleton to raise funds for the parade and the Comprehensive Cancer Center. A second Hooley, at the High Noon Saloon was held in 2006. Then, in January 2007, the first Craic for the Cure was held at the Maple Bluff Country Club. This event proved so successful that a second Craic was held in November 2008


Madison’s 10th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade was a tremendous success!

Madisonians paved the streets in green and white in honor of St. Patricks Day. Crowds watched as 100 groups circled the square. Bret Bielema, head coach of the University of Wisconsin-Madison football team, was Grand Marshall and Katie O’Phelan, parade founder, returned to Madison to celebrate and participate in the 10th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

The St. Patrick’s Day Committee would like to express their appreciation and sincere thanks to all parade sponsors, participants, volunteers and spectators who helped make this parade a great success.
The proceeds from the parade will go to the UW Paul W. Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center.

It t'was a great day for the Irish!

Brought to you in part by:
  St. Patrick's Parade Committee of Madison Wisconsin
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