It’s time to paint the town green! On Saturday, March 16, the Fort Lauderdale St. Patrick’s Parade and Festival marches into downtown featuring fun and excitement for the entire family!
Presented by The Law Firm of Kelley/Uustal, the free event has grown into one of Fort Lauderdale’s largest and most anticipated festivals, attracting thousands of spectators for a one-of-a-kind celebration of all things Irish. This year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever, highlighted by a colorful parade, live music, exciting activities and great entertainment.
The pageantry and excitement kicks off at Huizenga Plaza (Las Olas and Andrews Avenue) at 7 a.m. with the Shamrock Run, a 4-mile trek down Las Olas Boulevard and through adjacent neighborhoods. The Shamrock 4-Miler will be immediately followed by a series of “Lucky Little Leprechaun Dashes” for kids. To register, visit www.shamrock-run.com.
Festivities will continue throughout the morning with live music and entertainment, and plenty of fun and games for the kids. The official welcome from Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean J. Trantalis will take place at 11 a.m. on the Huizenga Plaza stage, followed by a traditional Irish Blessing. Then, it’s time for the largest St. Patrick’s Parade in South Florida.
The St. Patrick’s Parade begins at noon and travels west along Las Olas Boulevard from S.E. 5 Avenue through the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale. The colorful parade will feature more than 100 decorative floats, pipe and drum corps, classic automobiles, bagpipers, marching bands, Irish dancers, street performers, scout troops, local sports teams, Veterans groups, and much more!
Following the parade, stick around for the St. Patrick’s Festival, which runs until 7 p.m. at Huizenga Plaza and along the Riverwalk. Highlights will include live bands, Irish dancers, interactive entertainment, cultural attractions and an expanded Kids Zone featuring bounce houses, gigantic slides, pony rides, a trackless train, face painting, a petting zoo and mechanical rides. Featured performers will include the Celtic Sounds with Johnnie D, Kelly Academy of Irish Dance, the Fenians, Aranmore Academy of Irish Dance, Celtic Bridge, Drake School of Irish Dance and more.
At 6 p.m., get ready for the ultimate U2 experience as the City of Fort Lauderdale welcomes U2BYUV to the St. Patrick’s Festival for a return engagement! Led by front man Michael Schmidt, this nationally acclaimed group will leave fans speechless with their honest, authentic performances. The band’s intense, action-packed sets feature U2 favorites ranging from the early days of “Boy” to “Songs of Innocence” and everything in between.
Highlights of the day’s festivities will also include exhibitor booths, arts and crafts, souvenirs, and plenty of Irish food and beverages. Finally, don’t miss the best kickoff celebration in town as the City of Fort Lauderdale presents the “Irish Party in Park” on Friday, March 15 from 4 – 7 pm at Huizenga Plaza. The free kickoff event will feature an Irish Happy Hour, live bands, the official introduction of the St. Patrick’s Parade Grand Marshal, an event preview, line dancing, the legendary striping of the street, and special appearances by a bagpiper and the “World’s Tallest Leprechaun!” So make plans to arrive early, grab a great viewing spot, and enjoy the best Irish celebration in town! For more information, visit www.stpatsftl.com.