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More than 200,000 Expected For Pittsburgh's St. Patrick's Day Parade

patty parade.jpg
Jeff Meade/Flickr

On Saturday Pittsburgh's annual family-friendly St. Patrick's Day parade and festivities will begin at 10 a.m. The Pittsburgh parade is held March 17 or the Saturday immediately preceding that date.

Leave the green beer at home though, because city code prohibits drinking alcohol in public. The ordinance is more commonly known as the "Open Container Law."

Parade spokesman Tim O'Brien said the event is enjoyable for people of all ages.

"I've seen lots of little kids and young parents just enjoy the parade with their kids, and it's always special when you see a child at their first Saint Patrick's Day parade,"  O'Brien said.

Market Square will have face painting, street entertainers and music — all without alcohol until 2:00 p.m. After that, adult beverages will be available for purchase.

"So if you're a young family and you're looking for fun, you can not only find it at the parade but you can also find it at Market Square during the parade hours," O'Brien said.

The parade starts near the Greyhound bus station on Liberty Avenue and extends to the Boulevard of the Allies, Stanwix Street and ends at Commonwealth Place. O'Brien said it's the fourth year the parade will take that route.

Pittsburgh hosted its first St. Patrick's Day parade in 1869 and continued for 34 years before being suspended for more than four decades in favor of religious services, dinners and other events.

"It's occurred nonstop since 1950," O'Brien said. "Today we get about 23,000 participants and over 200,000 spectators, and last year we had 350,000 spectators, which was one of the largest crowds we ever attracted."

Those numbers make Pittsburgh's St. Patrick's Day parade the second-largest in the nation behind New York City.

In the days leading up to the parade, there's a crowning of Miss Smiling Irish Eyes by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and the declaration of "Saint Patrick's Week" in Pittsburgh by City Council.