Atlanta St. Patrick's Parade committee announces essay contest



In Atlanta the annual St. Patrick's Celebration was first held in 1858 by the Hibernian Benevolent Society of Atlanta.

Savannah's St. Patrick's Day Parade is even older, dating back to 1813 and is the second largest in the country. Thousands of people march in both parades to the skirl of brilliant pipes and drums, while revelers line the streets and enjoy the festive air. But sometimes people forget that a holiday such as this originally came out of dire and compelling circumstances: the horror of famine and religious persecution, the sorrow of leaving one's homeland, family and friends, the terror of ocean voyages in crowded, disease-ridden boats and the challenge of building new homes in a foreign land.

This St. Patrick's Day, honoring all Americans who have come to our country in hopes of finding new opportunity, the Atlanta St. Patrick's Parade Committee is pleased to announce its annual contest for high school students.

With a prize of $1,000 for the first place winner for a 1000-word essay on The Meaning of St. Patrick's Day, the contest will be adjudicated by a committee headed by Dr. James W. Flannery, director of the W. B. Yeats Foundation and a member of the Irish Studies program of Emory University.

All entries submitted become the property of Atlanta St. Patrick's Parade, Inc. Students are encouraged to look at the meaning of St. Patrick's Day from any number of perspectives: historical, religious, sociologic, folkloric, cultural or multicultural. We encourage students to share their familial or community histories, stories and customs with us, whether or not they happen to be Irish. Another approach might be to look at the life and values of St. Patrick: a slave himself, he was a fierce opponent of slavery. The only criterion is that, in some way, the essay should shed a fresh light on the continued meaning of St. Patrick's Day.

The deadline for submissions is Tuesday, March 1, 2011. They can be e-mailed to St.Patricksessay@gmail.com or mailed to Dr. James Flannery, Director, W. B. Yeats Foundation Winship Professor of the Arts and Humanities, Emory University, 1655 North Decatur Road, Room 105, Atlanta, GA 30322.

Announcement of the winner will be made by March 5, and the winner will be an honored guest at the 129th Atlanta St. Patrick's Parade held on Saturday, March 12, 2011 and at the Sponsor & Dignitary Breakfast preceding the parade.