San Francisco to celebrate St. Patrick's Day a day early


San Francisco's St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival, one of the city's most popular annual events, is expected to draw thousands of people to the city this weekend.

Saturday's parade, now in its 162nd year, will be led this year by Grand Marshal Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, according to organizers. Its theme is "Honoring the Celtic Woman."

Sponsored by the United Irish Societies of San Francisco, the parade celebrating the Bay Area's Irish community will start at 11:30 a.m. at Market and Second streets, and march west down Market to McAllister, finishing at Civic Center.

A festival will follow at Civic Center from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. showcasing Irish history and culture, with live music and dancing and cultural and business exhibits, organizers said. Bands scheduled to perform include The Hooks, The Gas Men, Blue on Green, The Bushmills Pipe Band and Lucia Comnes and her Rockin' Irish Band.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has warned that the parade and festival will affect a number of bus and train lines and close a number of city streets including Market and Grove Street between Larkin and Polk streets.

Those planning on attending or participating, or simply trying to get around the city that day, should check or call 311 to determine the best way to get where they need to go, the agency said.

St. Patrick's Day itself takes place on Sunday, of course, and many people will be out celebrating on that day instead, or even as well.

Less than sober revelers looking for a safe way to get home on Sunday can also call Luxor Cabs, which is offering free rides within San Francisco on St. Patrick's Day between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Riders need to remember to mention the program's sponsor, Berg Injury Lawyers, and any ride that would otherwise cost less than $35 will be free.

San Francisco police warn that they will be patrolling heavily for drunk drivers throughout the holiday weekend. In particular, citywide saturation patrols will be conducted on Friday from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. and a DUI checkpoint will take place on Saturday, March 16 from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. at a location that has yet to be announced.

And don't forget your smartphone. This year you can watch live dancing from Ireland from a web feed. Mayor Ed Lee, who's in our sister city of Cork, Ireland, will address the crowd.

To watch the live stream, click here.

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