Whether you sport blue or red in this town, if you’re in the Highlands Saturday afternoon — even if it’s to watch the final games of the season — you best be wearing green. The 46th annual St. Patrick’s Parade will stroll down Baxter Avenue and Bardstown Road starting at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 9, and attendance is expected to reach more than 100,000.
Also known as “the People’s Parade” because all are welcome to the free festivity, there will be more than 150 participants in the parade, either in the form of a float, a marching band or just an organization marching along and handing out beads and candy.
The event is hosted and organized by the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Louisville, part of the largest Irish group in the United States, and their mission includes making donations and providing services across all demographics and without regard to race, religion, denomination, etc.
John O’Dwyer is president of Hibernians, a position he has held for four years now, and he attributes the parade’s longevity and success to its lack of presumption.
“We promote it as the People’s Parade because we want everyone to come out and have a grand time,” he says. “It doesn’t matter what demographic you are, what political views or any other of the differences that may divide us. On this day, this Parade, we are all one and enjoy the diversity within the realm of the Irish spirit.”
He notes that it is not a corporate event, it is actually a charity, and the goal is to help others. And this year’s theme is “Shakin’ the Shillelagh,” which is a throwback to having a good time in the old days.
O’Dwyer has been attending St. Patrick’s parades his entire life, first while growing up in Brooklyn and later after relocating to Chicago — two cities that have massive St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. He moved to Louisville in 2010 and has been involved with the parade ever since. His favorite part is walking along the route and shaking people’s hands, thanking them for coming out.
“It takes a lot of hours out of your life to … put these on and be successful. It may be because of my time leading our great Order and being responsible, but this parade, our parade, is my favorite,” he says. “It is all about making the region around Louisville happy and then being able to give right back to them. It just makes a person feel good to know you can sacrifice a little to make a positive impact on others.”
If you’re eager to get started on festivals early, the annual Blessing of the Keg will take place on Thursday, March 7, starting at Goodwood Brewing at 5:30 p.m., followed by the blessed beer tapping at O’Shea’s in the Highlands at 7 p.m.
The 46th annual St. Patrick’s Parade starts at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 9. The route runs from the Broadway/Baxter intersection to about Mid-City Mall.