Attending the Pittsburgh St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a much different experience than dancing in it.
For several years, I jigged and reeled through the streets of Downtown Pittsburgh with my Irish step dance troupe and it was a happy blur. A sea of thousands covered in green, Irish music, and clans celebrating their family reunions decked the city. Those folks gave us the energy to make it through the parade and, although I was exhausted by parade’s end, the feeling of knowing that I was part of one of the United States’ largest annual parades was an awesome accomplishment.
The annual parade hosts well over 20,000 participants and has been showing off its Irish pride since 1869, so you can imagine the amount of spectators that reel in the Irish revelry with its bagpipers, step dancers, and marching bands. As a spectator this year, the experience of actually watching the parade was just as much fun as dancing in it. Niche gave Pittsburgh the honorable title of “Best Place in the United States to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day” for 2015.
Why, you ask? Here’s reasons why you should attend next year.
1. The Smiling Irish Eyes
There’s no other time during the year that you’ll see so many Irish eyes a-smiling! The parade draws over 20,000 spectators and Pittsburgh has made it a point to make the parade frivolity family-friendly.
You’ll see swarms of red-headed, blue-eyed Irish in their element dancing and singing along to traditional Irish tunes from the land of Eire and the city embraces their big day with open arms. Technically, 13.5 % of Pittsburgh residents are of Irish heritage, but on parade day the stat skyrockets!
2. After the Parade Ends, the Party Begins
During and after the parade, Market Square is host to loads of Irish events for both families and singles, so the party doesn’t stop after the parade does. Up for learning a jig? I happily joined in the dancing fun with the Pittsburgh Ceili Club and learned a couple of traditional dances. Live music really gets the crowd at Market Square in the Irish mood, so don’t be surprised to see large groups of college kids doing their best Michael Flatley impersonation.
3. Even if You’re Not Irish, You Can Be Irish at Heart on Parade Day
Whether you’ve been Irish your whole life or Irish for a day, you don’t have to be Irish to enjoy the parade fun! Standing on the parade sidelines, spectators from all walks of the earth are Irish at heart, so throw on some green, wear a silly Irish hat or glasses, and test your Irish accent skills with the rest of us.
If you want a spot up front, you need to arrive early, especially if it’s a good weather day. We braved the rain (hey, it rains in Ireland. A lot.) last Saturday and the parade route was jam-packed.
4. Pittsburgh Takes the Open Container Rule Away on Parade Day
From 2-5 pm on parade day, Pittsburgh drops its open container policy in Market Square for those that love green beer. And whiskey. And any other liquor you can think of.