ST. LOUIS — The 54th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is back, painting downtown green and sharing the spirit of Ireland.

For Irish Senator Fiona O’Loughlin, this was her first time in St. Louis, attending the parade.

“I woke up this morning and I could hear the music, and to see so many people dressed in green, honoring my country – honoring our shared heritage, is just a phenomenal feeling,” said Irish Senator Fiona O’Loughlin.

The parade kicked off at noon at 20th and Market, traveling east on Market, to its conclusion at Broadway and Clark.

And kicking off the festivities was the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade Run. It’s a tradition that welcomes more than five-thousand runners on a 5-mile course through downtown.

The parade had 120 units, 12 Irish arts units, eight marching bands, and eight helium balloons.

“I’m very proud of all of our volunteers. We have a committee of over 80 people and families that put on this event, hosting 300,000 people through the streets of St. Louis,” said Paul Crowe, Chairman of the St. Patrick’s Day Committee.

“I’d just like to say happy St. Patrick’s Day to everybody. And when we think about Patrick and we think about all the values that he embodied. It was really about trying to make the world a better place. I think we all have a role to play in that,” said O’Loughlin.

At this year’s run, participants were able to donate a portion of their registration fee to four local charities: The Backstoppers, Inc., St. Patrick Center, Kids Rock Cancer, and Atlas Public Schools.