St. Paul celebrates St. Patrick’s Day despite the cold
Thousands of people turned out for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in St. Paul Friday, despite it being the coldest St. Patrick’s Day in the Twin Cities in 30 years.
“I mean look at all the people that are out here! It’s freezing and everybody is dedicated to this parade,” said Jeff Schmidt, who participated in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “I love this community and I love what we do.”
The annual parade went from Rice Park to CHS Field and featured 96 groups this year.
“St. Paul is synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a huge deal here,” said Jaimee Lucke Hendrikson, vice president of marketing for Visit St. Paul. “And the fact that it’s on a Friday this year really helps too.”
Following several years of pandemic-related restrictions and precautions, organizers expected the biggest crowd in years, even with the cold weather.
“Rain, sleet, snow, freezing rain, earthquake, we’re going to put this thing on because we are that proud of our Irish heritage. The Irish history goes way back. We’ve been doing this parade for 57 years now. I think it’s the best in the nation,” said Ralph Matthews, vice president of the Saint Patrick’s Association, which puts on the parade.
Mayor Melvin Carter also walked in the parade Friday, greeting the crowds.
“Somebody asked me this morning if I thought the cold would limit our attendance. I said, ‘I don’t know if you’ve ever been in St. Paul on St. Patrick’s Day before! It’s just a time to have fun. We sort of reawaken from a tough winter and it kicks us into summertime,” he said.
Bars and restaurants along West 7th Street in St. Paul always enjoy a boost on St. Patrick’s Day and were impressed by the crowds Friday.
“Everybody wants to get out after years of being trapped up,” said Justin Christensen, bartender at Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub. “This is the biggest day of the year.”
The St. Patrick’s Day celebrations were just the start of a busy weekend in St. Paul, which includes the NCHC Frozen Faceoff, the collegiate conference hockey tournament at the Xcel Energy Center and two home games for the Minnesota Wild.