Belleville businesses and organizations are encouraging people get their Irish on locally instead of driving to St. Louis this weekend.
This will be the 14th year for the Ancient Order of Hibernians St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the third year for Irish-themed block parties and the first year for the Lucky Leprechaun 5K Run. All happen on Saturday.
“This has become the biggest single day of sales for bars and restaurants in downtown Belleville, and we’re very proud of that,” said Scott Schmelzel, 47, owner of Big Daddy’s 618.
Scott is organizing the block parties with Pitchers Pub & Pizzeria and Fritz Distributing. Main Street will be closed to vehicles in front of Big Daddy’s and Pitchers after the parade.
The parade will kick off at 11 a.m. at Third and A streets, go south on Third and east on Main, ending at Oak Street.
“We’ll have about 85 units,” said chairman Pat Hickey, 58, past president of the Michael P. Keeley Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
“That includes everything from the Signal Hill Grade School Band to the Bud Light Brigade to the Shriners bagpipe and drum corps (Ainad Highlanders). We’ll have about 40 different family clans, and all kinds of floats.”
“This is the best time of the year. It’s about our heritage and culture. We’re Irish, and we’re honoring St. Patrick. He’s the one who went to Ireland to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. And he used the shamrock to explain the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
Pat Hickey on St. Patrick’s Day
The Murphy clan decorates a trailer with shamrocks, Irish flags and photos of their ancestors, Tom and Lorene Murphy, whose family came from County Wexford, Ireland.
Granddaughter Julie Orlet, 59, has fond memories of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations as a child, eating corned beef and cabbage and singing Irish songs.
“We throw green beads (from the float), and we sing ‘The Night that Pat Murphy Died,’” she said. “That’s our theme song.”
New this year, the parade will be led by the Belleville Fire Department Honor Guard and O’Fallon Police Department Honor Guard. They will stop at Belleville Veterans Memorial Fountain to perform “Amazing Grace.”
Nearly 200 people have signed up for the Lucky Leprechaun, sponsored by Belleville Main Street. It will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Union United Methodist Church.
The block parties will feature music from 2 to 5 p.m. by Funky Butt Brass Band outside Big Daddy’s and Jake’s Leg outside Pitchers. Admission is free. Food and drinks will be sold on the street. Other bars and restaurants will be open.
“People are spending their money in their own community,” Scott said. “And it helps a lot of other businesses, such as Tribout’s, which sells beads and party supplies.”
Hickey also invites local residents to attend an Irish flag-raising ceremony at 10 a.m. March 17 in front of St. Clair County Courthouse.
Both days, he’ll be decked out in green beads and a green coat or T-shirt, depending on the weather. His family hails from County Limerick, Ireland.
“This is the best time of the year,” Hickey said. “It’s about our heritage and culture. We’re Irish, and we’re honoring St. Patrick. He’s the one who went to Ireland to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. And he used the shamrock to explain the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
Downtown St. Louis
For those who still want to drive to St. Louis, its 47th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will begin at noon Saturday. It’s one of the largest celebrations in the country, attracting 250,000 spectators.
ROUTE: The parade will start at Aloe Plaza (20th and Market) and go east on Market and south on Broadway, ending at Clark.
UNITS: More than 120 units will include marching bands, floats, huge cartoon-character balloons, clowns and about 5,000 marchers in green.
FOOD AND DRINK: Booths along the parade route will sell soft drinks, beer, hot dogs, burgers and brats, along with other snacks and novelties.
IRISH VILLAGE: An Irish-themed entertainment area at Ballpark Village (Broadway and Clark) will feature food, drink, merchandise and music by The Pedestrians. It will be open before, during and after the parade, beginning at 9 a.m.
BALLOON FUN: Families are invited to watch giant helium balloons, such as Murphy the Leprechaun and the Irish Flag, being inflated between 8 and 11 a.m. at Aloe Plaza.
FIVE-MILE RUN: More than 10,000 people are expected to participate in the 38th annual St. Patrick’s Day Run. It will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Broadway and Walnut and will cover 5 miles.
INFORMATION: Visit www.irishparade.org, email to email@example.com or call 314-241-7287.
The Ancient Order of Hibernians St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the Dogtown neighborhood of St. Louis is always held on the actual holiday by the Father Tim Dempsey Division. The 33rd annual will begin at 12:30 p.m. March 17.
ROUTE: The parade will start at Tamm and Oakland and go south on Tamm, ending at Machester (biggest crowds gather at Tamm and Clayton).
UNITS: About 100 units will include floats, Irish dancers, other salutes to Irish history and culture and people marching with their family crests and banners.
FOOD AND DRINK: Food and beer booths will be set up along the parade route. Local bars and restaurants will be open.
ST. JAMES ACTIVITIES: St. James the Greater Church parishioners will serve corned beef and cabbage for lunch and dinner in the school cafeteria. The church also will host Irish dancers, music and other entertainment all day.
PARKING: Parking is a challenge. Businesses charge $10 to $20 to park in their lots. Other options include the St. Louis Zoo South Lot ($15) or elsewhere in Forest Park.
PROHIBITED: Coolers, backpacks and glass containers.
INFORMATION: Visit www.stlhibernians.com or call Parade Committee chairman Dave Holmes at 314-623-6037.
- What: 14th annual Ancient Order of Hibernians St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Belleville
- When: 11 a.m. Saturday
- Route: Parade starts at Third and A streets and goes south on Third and east on Main, ending at Oak Street
- Run: The Lucky Leprechaun 5K will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Union United Methodist Church, 721 E. Main St. (register at www.runsignup.com)
- Block parties: Main Street will be closed to vehicles in front of Pitchers Sports Pub & Pizzeria and 618 Big Daddy’s after the parade
- Information: Call Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce at 618-233-2015 or Belleville Main Street at 618-257-7022 or visit the Facebook page under 14th Annual AOH St. Patrick’s Day Parade