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 Mackins, Kelleys, McGinnises, Baileys, McGlynns — about 40 clans in all — in celebrating the big day. The 13th edition of the spectacle, presented by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Michael P. Keeley division, promises to be the biggest and best yet.
“The turnout last year as spectacular, and we’ll have an even larger one this year,” said Pat Hickey, the parade coordinator. “Parade entries are up by about 20 percent. ... Now, I want everyone to go to Mass the day before to pray for good weather.”
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, horses from Camp Ondessonk, clowns and Shriners groups, including the Ainad Highland Bagpipers and the Bud Light Brigade band. The Riverside Buglers will be riding on the Crehan’s trolley.
The grand marshal is Charlie Herr, of O’Fallon, a past division president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. There will be color guards from the Shriners, the Knights of Columbus and the Hibernians.
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 the Hibernian Hunger Campaign for the third year. Parade participants are asked to donate two 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.
After the parade, festivities will continue at Bid Daddy’s and Pitcher’s Sports Pub in Downtown Belleville. Bands lined up to play include Jake’s Leg, Hobo Jungle and Clockword. Tim Ryan, son of parade founder Foz Ryan, will perform Irish music at Pitcher’s.
The city is closing down five blocks on Main Street until 1 a.m., Hickey said.
Downtown St. Louis
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 46th 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 streets.
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.
Added attraction: 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 37th annual 5-mile run through the streets of downtown begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, with more than 13,000 participants.
What: The 31st 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: 12:30 p.m. Tuesday
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