Éire by the Bay

San Francisco's Irish heritage is omnipresent. Among other things, the city has countless Irish pubs, the Irish Film Festival, and a newspaper (The Irish Herald). One of our famous local barkeeps is said to have traveled to Shannon in the 1950s to perfect his recipe for the Irish coffee cocktail. But today's event is arguably the epicenter: The St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival. Organizers say this is the 160th time it has happened, so it predates the Gold Rush. It's led by the United Irish Societies of San Francisco, which is made up of representatives of various Irish groups, and it's drawn as many as 100,000 people in recent years. The parade, which starts at Market and Second streets, includes more than 100 floats as well as dancing troupes and marching bands. Youth groups, labor unions, the police and fire departments, and local politicians will be among those marching. The festival, held at the end of the parade route, provides opportunities to learn about Irish history and culture through retail booths, live music, and dancing. And it's still five days until St. Patrick's Day proper, so if you don't know the difference between a Donegal Walker and a Tam o' Shanter, here's your chance to learn before Thursday's bar crawl.
Sat., March 12, 10 a.m., 2011

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