By Laurie Jo Miller Farr

Expect the usual crowds of 100,000 or so as San Francisco puts on its 166th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival on March 11, 2017. Men in kilts and children with shamrock painted faces will be everywhere at the Irish Festival and along the parade route where marchers step out at 11:30 a.m. from Second and Market. The 5,000-strong parade winds up at the festival in Civic Center Plaza and on Grove Street from Polk to Larkin about two hours later.

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St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Market Street
San Francisco, CA 95105
Date: Saturday, March 11, 2017

On behalf of The United Irish Societies of San Francisco, this year’s Grand Marshal is Diarmuid Philpott. Keep an eye out for highlights, such as last year’s parade competition winners and this year’s contestants from all over the Bay Area. Best in class from 2016 for floats, bands, baton corps, decorated cable car and more include the Stewart Tartan Pipes, Drums and Dancers; Humboldt State Marching Lumberjacks; Northern California Irish Wolfhounds; Murphy Irish Dancers; George Washington High School JROTC; Galileo High School JROTC; East Bay Fleadchaeol; Napa Pepperettes; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers – Local 6 and others.

Antique cars, color guards, drill teams, flag teams, and Irish dancers are among the prize-winning troupes entertaining onlookers as 100-plus contingents and floats pass by in one of the nation’s oldest and biggest St. Paddy’s Day parades. As ever, thte ranks are well represented by politicians, San Francisco fire fighters, police officers and more civic group.

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Irish Festival
Civic Center Plaza
San Francisco, CA 94102

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The free outdoor party will take place, rain or shine, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The lively festival atmosphere is family-friendly, with pony rides, arts and crafts, live music and dance performances, inflatables, games, a petting zoo and other kids’ activities throughout the day. Food and drink stalls will be selling whatever may take your fancy in the shadow of City Hall, illuminated in green for St. Paddy’s Day photo opportunities.

According to the United Irish Societies of San Francisco, over 4 million Californians are of Irish heritage and the Bay Area is home to about 1 million. “The Irish have always been a great part of our wonderful city, and we are rightly proud of our many contributions to the fabric of life here,” said the 2017 Parade Grand Marshal Diarmuid Philpott.

St. Patrick’s Day Mass
756 Mission St. at Third St.
San Francisco, CA 94103

Prior to the start of the parade, a St. Patrick’s Day Mass followed by a reception in the Parish Hall take place at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 11, 2017 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 756 Mission St. The landmark church founded in 1851 is beside Yerba Buena Park, approximately two blocks from the start of the parade.

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The Irish Bank
10 Mark Lane
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 788-7152

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Strictly unofficial but always traditional, the Irish pubs of San Francisco (as in every major American city) are key gathering places for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Mix with lassies in tartans and lads in kilts at The Irish Bank in the heart of downtown, which throws their own little block party in the lane every year on the 17th of March. Others within walking distance to the parade and festival include The Chieftain, Johnny Foley’s, and Irish Times in and around the Financial District where you can enjoy live music with a traditional Irish ground beef potato pie and pint of Guinness. Alternatively, the party is on in nearby North Beach at Kells, Kennedy’s Pub and Maggie McGarry’s. And if you reckon an authentic Irish coffee would warm your bones, head for The Buena Vista Cafe, historic home of American’s first and best interpretation of the real deal.