Belleville's Main Street will be a ribbon of green when the St. Patrick's Day Parade steps off at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Irish or not, you can put on your best green and join the Kelleys, McGinnises, Baileys, McGlynns and about 30 other clans in celebrating the big day. The 12th edition of the spectacle, presented by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, promises to be the biggest and best yet.
"The turnout last year as spectacular," said Pat Hickey, the parade coordinator. "Every year, it gets a little bigger, a little bigger, a little bigger. People just come out to have fun."
The parade will start at 11 a.m. in the third block of West Main Street, go around Veterans Memorial Fountain and end at East Main and Oak Avenue.
There will be floats and banners representing the various clans, teams of horses from Camp Ondessonk, Miller Lite Bavarian Draft Horses, Irish wolfhounds, clowns and Shriners groups, including the Ainad Highland Bagpiers and the Bud Light Brigade band. The Riverside Buglers will be riding on the Crehan's trolley.
The grand marshal is the Bailey family, "a proud Irish family and longtime Hibernians.," Hickey said.
And, it wouldn't be a St. Patrick's Day Parade without Brother Andy Lawlor from the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows as St. Patrick himself.
Parade watchers traditionally turn out wearing their green with green beads and anything else they can think of to get in on the Irish fun.
Clans will be throwing out prizes, too -- candy, green beads, necklaces and more.
The parade will have a serious moment, too. It will pause when the Highland Bagpipers play "Amazing Grace" at Veterans Memorial Fountain to honor our fallen troops.
The Ancient Order of Hibernians has about 95 members in Belleville. They are also sponsoring Hibernian Hunger Food Drive. Parade participants will donate cans of food to help out the Catholic Urban Programs' food pantry. Dropoff sites are at the start of the parade, Big Daddy's at 313 E. Main St. and Pitcher's Sports Pub and Pizzeria, 104 W. Main St.
Big Daddy's 618 will also host a block party as part of the St. Patrick's Day celebration Saturday in downtown Belleville. The restaurant wil open at 10 a.m. After the annual parade marches down East Main Street, the street's 300 block will remain closed to accommodate the party, which will include live entertainment and dee-jays beginning at 12:30 p.m. and lasting until 9 p.m.
"There is not going to be a better party in the region, said co-owner Scott Schmelzel, who hopes the party becomes an annual part of Belleville's St. Patrick's Day celebration. Proceeds from the event will go toward Belleville 200, the organization planning events for the city's yearlong bicentennial celebration.
What: 35 clans displaying their Irish pride, floats, bands, Ainad's Highland Bapipers, Irish wolfhounds, Miller Light's Bavarian Draft Horses, clowns and the Bud Light Brigade
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: downtown Belleville
Route: From the third block of West Main Street, around Veterans Memorial Fountain, ending at East Main and Oak Avenue.
Downtown St. Louis Parade
What: One of the largest St. Patrick's Day Parades in the country, it will have more than 120 units, including marching bands, floats, huge cartoon-character balloons, more than 5,000 marchers and clowns -- lots of clowns. More than 250,000 spectators in festive green attire are expected to attend the 45th annual parade.
When: noon Saturday
Where: downtown St. Louis
Route: Begins at Aloe Plaza, 18th and Market streets, and proceeds east to Kiener Plaza, Broadway and Market Street.
Irish Village: Irish-themed entertainment area in Kiener Plaza will feature food, beverages, merchandise and music by the Pedestrians. It opens at 9 a.m. Saturday and will remain open before, during and after the parade.
New this year: A family-friendy area to watch the giant helium character balloons, including Murphy the Leprechau and the Irish flag, close up as they are being inflated. It will be in Aloe Plaza near the corner of 18th and Chestnut between 8 and 11 a.m.
Banned: Glass containers and coolers.
Parade Run: The 36th annual 5-mile run through the streets of downtown begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, with more than 13,000 participants.
What: The 30th annual Ancient Order of Hibernians St. Patrick's Day Parade will have more than 100 marching units featuring floats highlighting Irish dancing and salutes to Irish history and culture, with participants marching under their family crests and banners.
When: noon Monday
Where: St. Louis' Dogtown neighborhood
Route: Starts at Tamm and Oakland, ends at Tamm and Manchester. Biggest crowds gather at the intersection of Tamm and Clayton.
Other attractions: Food and beer booths will be set up along the parade route. Parishioners at St. James the Greater Church will serve corned beef and cabbage dinners at the school cafeteria. There are also Irish dancers, music and other entertainment all day at the church.
Parking: It's tight in the neighborhood. Businesses usually charge between $10 and $20 to park in their lots. Options include the South Lot at the St. Louis Zoo ($15) or elsewhere in Forest Park.
Banned: Coolers and glass containers