Mar 1, 2022 - News

Twin Cities St. Patrick's Day parades are back, with new routes

A marcher in a parade does the hoola hoop

Photo: Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Big celebrations for St. Patrick's Day are coming back this year, but they won't look the same as they did before COVID.

Why it matters: The return of the holiday's marquee local event β€” the parade in St. Paul β€” feels symbolic. Two years ago organizers were forced to call off the festivities at the last minute as COVID began its U.S. spread.

  • Then, in 2021, organizers pivoted to drive-thru parades as the Twin Cities recovered from the winter COVID surge.

What's happening: St. Paul's Saint Patrick's Association announced recently that not only will the parade return in 2022, but organizers are also reversing the route, starting on the west side of downtown in Rice Park and working east to Lowertown.

  • That's because the association is planning a "Ballpark Hooley" β€” Hooley is Irish for party β€” at CHS Field, with live music, beer and food for a $5 entry.
  • "We wanted to come back with a bang," said Hayden Kilkenny, vice president of the Saint Patrick's Association.

Yes, but: It remains to be seen how the route reversal changes post-parade bar hopping. West Seventh Street has typically benefitted from parade crowds, but the party at CHS Field could pull people toward Lowertown.

  • "I think people will still eventually go out (on West Seventh), but we will be bringing a lot of much needed support to Lowertown for a few hours that day," Kilkenny said.

The other side (of the river): The organizers of the Minneapolis parade have moved the festivities from downtown to Columbia Heights.

Judy Clerkin, who organizes the parade with her husband Sean, said the move was made because the Columbia Heights Lion Club and VFW stepped up to sponsor the parade, and that financial help was needed after two lost years.

  • "We'll most likely be back in Minneapolis after everything settles down (with) COVID," Clerkin said.

Flashback: The cancellation of St. Patrick's Day festivities in 2020 was the first big buzzkill of the pandemic.

  • Remember this sad photo of Minneapolis bar hopper Nicky Garcia looking in the windows of The Local and wondering where everyone went?

What to expect: Both parades are seeing strong registration numbers. But like all St. Patrick's Day parades in the Twin Cities, crowd sizes will depend on the unpredictable March weather.

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