ST. LOUIS – The Ancient Order of Hibernians kicked off its 38th annual parade in the Dogtown neighborhood on Friday, recognizing and honoring a tradition that began in St. Louis over 200 years ago.

For almost four decades, St. Louis Hibernians have added to that tradition by showcasing Irish heritage in one of the city’s oldest Irish enclaves, the Dogtown neighborhood in south St. Louis.

The Irish culture in the Dogtown neighborhood dates back to the 1800s, when Irish immigrants helped settle the area, working to create a community similar to what they had at home in Ireland. An important part of an Irish community was the church, in this case, St. James the Greater, established in 1860. To this day, many consider St. James the “heart and soul” of the neighborhood.

The newest event added to the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is the Dogtown Irish Festival. This year’s parade will contain over 90 units featuring floats highlighting Irish dancing, music, and salutes to Irish history and culture.

The Grand Marshal of this year’s parade was Julie Colombo, who is 100 years old and a lifelong resident of the Dogtown neighborhood.

The 4th annual Dogtown Irish Festival had plenty of fun, food, music, and attractions for the enjoyment of all ages. The festival was started in 2018 by Dogtown United, a non-profit organization run by local and corporate leaders, and the Hibernians.

“The Hibernians and our marchers look forward to this event every year,” said Joe Murphy, chairman of the 2023 St. Patrick’s Day parade. “It will be great once again to continue the tradition and see the big crowds as we march down Tamm Avenue.”

“But we ask everyone coming to Dogtown on March 17 to be respectful of the neighborhood, local businesses, and your fellow attendees,” Murphy said. “Yes, come celebrate, but the Hibernians ask you do it in a both fun and a safe way.”