San Francisco salutes Irish heritage with annual parade

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San Francisco salutes Irish heritage with annual parade

A group of people dance to the beat of the Irish jig.

A group of people dance to the beat of the Irish jig.

Cheryl L Guerrero

A group of people dance to the beat of the Irish jig.

Cheryl L Guerrero

Cheryl L Guerrero

A group of people dance to the beat of the Irish jig.

Talia Schreiber, Staff Writer

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The sun beamed down on the crowded streets of San Francisco last Saturday as thousands came together to celebrate one of the biggest annual Saint Patrick’s Day parades in the country.

Loud cheering and the sound of bagpipes and flutes could be heard across the city from about 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The parade featured over 100 marching bands, colorful floats, and Irish dancers. It began at the corner of 2nd Street and made its way down Market Street, passing by the Civic Center Plaza where people of all ages came to socialize and participate in the different activities.

The festival that took place at the plaza showcased traditional Irish culture with live music, performances, arts and crafts, and food and drinks.

“San Francisco is known for its amazing parades and festivals and this event was no different,” Jennifer Price said. “Everyone was smiling and having a great time. The food at the festival was also really tasty; there was corned beef, hot dogs, stew, potato bowls, and other meals that are usually eaten on St. Patrick’s Day. Some of the drinks were even dyed green which made everything more festive.”

The upbeat music was a huge part of the parade as performers played Irish drums, bagpipes, flutes, and uilleann pipes, all which represent the diverse Irish culture and history.

“The energy here is glorious. I have been coming to this parade for the last five years and every year it gets better and better,” said Marsha Ross, a local. “My favorite part is listening to the different bands because they are all so unique and talented and they make me feel the holiday spirit.”

Although the majority who attended the event were not Irish, almost everyone wore green to show their love and support of the culture. A sea of green costumes, jewelry, hats, cars, and beverages stretched as far as the eye could see.

“Coming together and having a good time with friends and family is a big part of this day. People are so cheerful and welcoming towards you even if you are not Irish, which is such a good feeling,” Evan Campbell said. “There is no judgment and everybody wants each other to have fun and enjoy the performances.”

This holiday’s significance means something different to everyone. For some, Saint Patrick’s day is a special time to pray and give thanks to Saint Patrick who converted Ireland to Christianity and drove out the snakes.

Mark Lawson said, “My wife was born in Ireland, so for us, this day is about tradition and family and recreating her childhood. It gives her a chance to celebrate her Irish identity and respect her ancestry.”

Others view this holiday as a reason to escape the house and enjoy a sunny day in the city with friends. 

“There is such a strong sense of community. Everybody is having a great time and meeting new people,” said Amanda Fong, a student at the University of San Francisco. “It is an amazing event, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival!”

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