ST. LOUIS – The Dogtown neighborhood is gearing up to celebrate the Irish with the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.

On Thursday, a sea of green packed St. James the Greater Church. The special mass kicked off a weekend of festivities despite the rain and cold.

“The weather may be cold and windy tomorrow, but that’s a lot like it is in Ireland,” said Jim Mohan, publicity chairman for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. “So we kind of feel like a good sign of something similar to our Irish heritage and our homeland.”

That pride was already on full display, along with safety measures to keep crowds at bay. It includes barricades, fencing, and a slew of road closures along the parade route.

Officers from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department will be patrolling the event with additional officers on foot. Their traffic safety division will assist with street closures and rerouting traffic. 

To make sure you don’t drink and drive, Breakthru Beverage Missouri and Jameson Irish whiskey are partnering with Lyft to offer free rides home in St. Louis from 2 p.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday.

Despite concerns over public safety and the weather, people in Dogtown are decked out in green with pride to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

After services, St. James hosted the first of many Irish feasts of corned beef and cabbage.

“My grandfather came from Ireland, he came over on the boat from Ireland,” said Nancy Nuaski, an attendee for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. “My mother was all Irish, and so my mom used to come here, and we used to come here as a family, so I do it to honor my family.”

“Whether you’re Irish or not, it’s a sense of community in Dogtown that’s centered around the Irish festivity and centered around St. James,” said Adam Barber, a Dogtown resident. “It all comes together.”

The parade starts at the intersection of Tamm and Oakland at 11 a.m. and ends at 1:30 p.m.

The Irish Festival starts at 9 a.m. and is divided into three zones. One is for families, another is called the “Party” zone, and an Irish cultural zone.

More details on the festivities can be found here.