Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in San Francisco

Everyone loves a parade…especially on St. Patrick’s Day

"Man dressed as St. Patrick in parade in San Francisco 2013"

“St. Patrick” himself in the St. Patrick’s Day parade

Though we really enjoy traveling in the U.S. and other places around the world, the San Francisco Bay area offers many sites and activities that make it a world class travel destination. We never take that for granted but still often feel we don’t take as big an advantage of this as we can. Yesterday, we decided to do something we had never done – enjoy St. Patrick’s Day festivities in San Francisco. That’s surprising because with my Irish Sweeney heritage St. Patrick’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays.

""Honoring Celtic Women" was the theme for this year's San Francisco St. Patrick's Day parade"

“Honoring Celtic Women” was the theme for this year’s parade

The San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival, hailed as one of the best in the United States and the largest west of the Mississippi, was the main event we attended. It was held yesterday, March 16th, the first time ever (I believe) on a day other than St. Patrick’s Day. This year’s parade, the 162nd, was themed “Honoring the Celtic Woman” and the float above sponsored by the East Bay Fleadh Cheoil (meaning “Festival of Music”) depicts influential & notable Irish women.

"Along the St. Patrick's Day parade route in front of the Civic Center building, San Francisco

At the end of the parade route in front of the Civic Center building, San Francisco

On a beautiful, sunny day the parade marched down Market Street ending at the Civic Center and site of the St. Patrick’s Day Festival held in the Civic Center Plaza. The parade is a key event celebrating Irish heritage and culture, very important to San Francisco which has a large Irish American community that has been an important part of San Francisco history for many years. City Hall is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city and makes for an impressive backdrop to the parade and festivities in the plaza. The plaza is also the scene for many key celebrations, such as in 2010 and 2012 for the San Francisco Giants’ World Series victories.

"Well-balanced young girl tossing candy into the crowd along route of St. Patrick's Day parade in San Francisco 2013"

Well-balanced young girl tossing candy into the crowd

"Irish political statements on fire truck in the parade"

Political statements on fire truck in the parade

"Huge Irish Wolfhounds marching in the San Francisco St. Patrick's Day parade 2013"

Huge Irish Wolfhounds of the Northern California Irish Wolfhound Club

At Civic Center Plaza, we enjoyed Irish music, garlic fries and a little Guinness while talking to others in the crowd, everyone seeming to be in “high” spirits.

"Enjoying a Guinness (or two) in Civic Center Plaza, San Francisco"

Enjoying a Guinness (or two) in Civic Center Plaza, San Francisco

"Woman singing with the Irish band in the plaza"

Woman singing with the Irish band in the plaza

"Woman doing the Irish jig in Civic Center Plaza"

Impromptu Irish dancing at the plaza

"Children and green balloons at St. Patrick's Day parade in San Francisco"

It’s all about the green balloons for these kids

"San Francisco Fire Department Chief, Joanne Hayes-White was the Grand Marshal of the parade"

San Francisco Fire Department Chief, Joanne Hayes-White was the Grand Marshal of the parade

Meeting San Francisco Fire Department Chief and the parade’s Grand Marshal, Joanne Hayes-White was probably the highlight of the parade for me. Given the parade’s theme, the chief was a good choice for  Grand Marshal with her distinguished career in the San Francisco Fire Department and her Irish heritage.

On to the pub

A large part of the celebration in San Francisco happens at the cities many Irish pubs (over 50), some having block parties for St. Patrick’s Day. To properly experience St. Patrick’s Day in San Francisco and to sate our craving for Guinness, we chose the Irish Bank, a popular Irish pub hidden at the end of an alley off Grant Avenue near Union Square and not far from the Civic Center. We arrived just in time to catch the end of the Irish pipers and drummer pictured below.

"Revelers and Irish Band at The Irish Bank in San Francisco"

Revelers and Irish Band at The Irish Bank

At mid-afternoon, the pub already had a large and boisterous crowd of revelers, many who seemed to have been there for quite some time. We persistently moved through the crowd to squeeze inside for a pint of Guinness and to show the youngsters how it’s done. Then we stepped outside to enjoy the live band, the Bog Savages, who engaged the crowd with mostly Irish rebel songs.

"Irish Rebel band, the Bog Savages playing at The Irish Bank"

The Bog Savages playing at The Irish Bank

Sláinte! To your health, on this St. Patrick’s Day!

8 thoughts on “Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in San Francisco

  1. Jackie Smith

    What a celebration! In the Pacific Northwest it seems our only events are ‘runs’ which draw thousands of green-clad folks despite the rain and cold. Wish we had a parade somewhere instead – a parade the size of San Francisco’s and not the smaller version that Seattle hosts. Fun post – fun day!

  2. Christina

    I’m getting the feeling there is much more Saint Patrick’s Day fun going on in SF than in LON! Love the picture of you and your two guinness (because one is never enough…)! 😀

  3. InsideJourneys

    Belated Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Cathy! Looks like fun times in SF.
    I love parades and the ones for St. Patrick’s Day are usually the best. The revelry goes on all day and into the night.

  4. Ibukun

    Awesome post. I am going to San Fransisco in a few weeks and I can hardly wait to see the sights. Loving the pics of the Irish Wolfhounds. Keep them coming..

  5. Bog Savages

    Just saw your pic of us and the kind caption. Email me and I can send you a few of our CDs for free.
    We always like to reward good press!

    See you at the Irish Bank in March of 2014.

    Jay

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