Thousands expected in downtown Raleigh for annual St. Patrick’s Day parade

03/10/2014 6:07 PM

02/15/2015 10:41 AM

Look for a sea of green this weekend as tens of thousands of people turn out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

The holiday falls on Monday this year, but most of the events in the city are planned for Saturday.

As many as 40,000 people are expected to gather for the 32nd annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and festival, with 3,000 participants in the parade itself.

Raleigh Fire Chief John McGrath will serve as the Grand Marshal of this year’s parade, which will follow a new route south on Wilmington Street, around the State Capitol to Fayetteville Street and on to City Plaza.

At the the plaza, an all-day festival will feature live music, dance performances, vendors, children’s activities and a bone marrow registration drive.

A small team of volunteers works all year to plan the parade and festival, said co-director Dianne Enright.

The parade and festival continue to grow from their humble beginnings in 1983 when a dozen or so Irish-Americans marched down Wilmington Street in celebration.

Revelers can celebrate at a Glenwood South block party hosted by Napper Tandy’s Irish Pub and the Hibernian Restaurant & Pub.

The Hibernian’s Glenwood South location re-opened earlier this month after a fire in late 2012 destroyed the original building.

Niall Hanley, the pub’s owner, said business has been strong since the expanded two-story building opened.

“Things have been spectacular – a great reaction, a great reception,” he said. “Everyone is super pleased with how the pub turned out.”

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