Public St. Patrick’s Day celebrations can be a dicey affair with kids in tow: big crowds, a paucity of restroom facilities, and adults not always on their best behavior. But there are plenty of fun ways to partake of the wearin’ o’ the green with the wee’uns, and downtown St. Paul is the place to do it.
The big event, of course, is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, sponsored for the last 44 years by the St. Patrick’s Association. The parade goes up 4th Street, from Sibley to Rice Park, and steps off at noonish (it’s an Irish event, and the Irish are not a people prone to precise punctuality, so expect a little bit of a delay). I’ve found that the best place to watch it is from the steps of the St. Paul Central Library, or from Rice Park, where you’ll find vendors selling a wide array of St. Pat’s paraphernalia. Further down the hill things are a bit more crowded and chaotic; by the time the parade reaches the library, it’s sorted itself out. The pipers and brass bands are always a hit with kids.
On the other side of Rice Park, in the Landmark Center, the Irish Music and Dance Association is running their big event full of music, dance, and activities. Kids who are interested in music might especially enjoy the 2:00 PM performance by students from the Center for Irish Music; I’ve seen them perform at a few events, and they’re really great. If your kids are interested in pursuing jigs and reels and airs a little further, you can get information there about the classes and camps that the center offers.
There’s also a special children’s stage with music geared to the younger set, and craft activities (in years past the craft room has been upstairs, which is a great opportunity to check out the haunted elevator, supposedly operated by a ghostly bellhop). Food is available, too, and not just corned beef and cabbage: there are kid friendly sandwiches and snacks for sale. Tickets $6 for adults, $4 for kids 5-12, and festivities run from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Sláinte, a chairde!