Springfield Saint Patrick's Day Parade returns to C-Street, Downtown Springfield. (Photo submitted)

Get your green tights out of storage and grab your shillelagh. The Springfield Saint Patrick’s Day Parade returns Saturday, March 11, after a three-year absence due to COVID-19.

The popular parade will start along Commercial Street at 2 p.m. It makes its way to Boonville Avenue, to Park Central Square and on to Walnut street, where it ends.

This year’s event is presented by Alamo Drafthouse and is under the management of the Downtown Springfield Association, according to a press release from the association.

Applications to be in the parade or volunteer are open and available until 5 p.m. Friday, March 10.

It costs $25 for a non-commercial entry, $50 for a commercial entry and $75 for an oversized entry. All entry fees go to cover the cost of putting on the parade.

This year’s parade is No. 40; it was most recently held in 2019. St. Patrick’s Day is Friday, March 17.

Who’s got the most Irish pet?

An Irish Pet contest on Saturday will precede the parade at the C-Street Historic Footbridge Plaza, presented by Zoomin Groomin and hosted by TAME Pet Magazine.

Participants are invited to dress their pets in a St. Patrick’s day-themed outfit for a chance to win prizes. Signup starts at noon at the Footbridge Plaza. The contest will start at around 12:30 p.m.

The C-Street City Market will be open before the parade for a sneak peek of the upcoming season.

Beer garden, live music on the square

A beer garden will be open on Park Central Square from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Live music on the square includes Corey CoJo Johnson (noon-1 p.m.), Bold Deniers (1:30-2:30 p.m.) and Deja Crew (4-6 p.m.).

Following the parade, the winners will be announced from the downtown stage for best-decorated auto, best contraption on wheels, best Irish group, best musical entry and the judge’s choice award, sponsored by Blue Room Comedy Club

Springfield native Nancy Brown Dornan, owner of Maschino’s and a partner in the Historic Walnut Street Development Company, will be this year’s grand marshal. Maschino’s, 1715 S. Campbell Ave., is a regional store specializing in outdoor living, fireplace and wood stoves.

For more information, email Hailey Magnus at hailey@itsalldowntown.com or call the Downtown Springfield Association at 417-831-6200.

The association is a nonprofit community development organization.

Aaron Schekorra, spokesperson for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, offered general tips for those who plan to participate in the parade or watch from sidewalks.

“Our guidance would be for individuals who are sick or showing symptoms of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 to stay home and seek testing,” he said via email. “We would encourage everyone who plans to attend to get up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations to ensure they are protecting themselves and those around them from severe illness.”

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at spokin@sgfcitizen.org. His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin