Downtown Pittsburgh bustling with St. Patrick's Day activities

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Pittsburghers will have a veritable mulligan stew of things to do this weekend as the city celebrates St. Patrick's Day.

Having fun is going to be fairly easy. Just dress in green and head Downtown where thousands and thousands of people will be gathered for the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade.

The skies may be cloudy -- with a strong chance of rain Saturday morning -- but the rainbow of smiles will begin at 10 a.m. in Market Square, where there will be music, face painting and vendors selling all sorts of things that you won't know what to do with later.

The parade begins at the same time, following the same route it's taken for the past few years, from the Greyhound Bus Station at Liberty Avenue and 11th Street. The procession will head from the intersection of Liberty and Grant streets, down Grant to the Boulevard of the Allies, where it will turn right. From there, it will proceed to the end of the parade route at Commonwealth Place near the Point.

With almost 24,000 participants, it's regarded as the second-largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the nation. More than 200,000 spectators are expected to line the route, cheering, laughing, clapping, waving and singing.

If you think about that many people crowded into Downtown Pittsburgh, you realize that you'd have to be crazy to go down there.

Ha! Crazy like a fox with its face painted green, cheering, laughing, clapping, waving and singing!

And, as if the parades of the past somehow fell flat as a non-green beer, organizers are bringing in more marching units and are introducing a new official parade T-shirt -- perfect for wearing this summer.

Also new to the parade will be ponies from Dream Horse Stables in Derry; marchers from the Rebel Legion, an international "Star Wars" costuming organization; and players from the National Junior Prospects Hockey League.

Glenn Cannon of Highland Park will head the parade as the 2013 grand marshal. Maggie Marie Donaldson of Cheswick has been named 2013 Miss Smiling Eyes and will be crowned before the parade. Ms. Donaldson, a senior at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, is a founding member and president of the Junior Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians Division No. 23.

By the way, did you hear that there's a new pope? He's not Irish, but it's worth mentioning because a new addition to this year's celebration is a pre-parade Roman Catholic Mass at St. Patrick Church in the Strip District.

If you head over to Fifth Avenue Place between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., the kids will be able to create good-luck charm bracelets and key chains and take part in all kinds of activities.

"We're adding a lot more things that kids can enjoy," event chairman Patrick O'Brien said. "This parade is a community celebration. We say that everyone's Irish for a day, and it's true in Pittsburgh because it doesn't matter where you come from or what your ethnic heritage is, everyone is wearing green and celebrating together."

Let's see. Have we forgotten anything? Oh yeah! Music!

This city is going to be sick with Irish music. Just check out the lineup for Saturday:

Market Square -- The Stickers (1 p.m.); Bastard Bearded Irishmen (3 p.m.); The Truth (4:45 p.m.).

Easy Street, One Oxford Centre, Downtown -- Mike Gallagher (noon-4 p.m.).

Cafe Fifth, 818 Fifth Ave., Downtown -- Guaranteed Irish (noon-4 p.m.).

Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle, 2329 Penn Ave., Strip -- Inside: Mark Guiser (noon); Whiskey Limerick (4 p.m.); Red Hand Paddy (8 p.m.). Outside in the tent: Donny Irish (1 p.m.); Mike Gallagher (5 p.m.); Guaranteed Irish (7:30 p.m. to close).

Claddagh, SouthSide Works -- Callan (1 p.m.); The Irish Pretenders (3 p.m.); Sean McClorey (10 p.m.); DJ Climax (11 p.m.).

Riley's Pour House, 215 E. Main St., Carnegie -- Riley's Irish Band (1-3 p.m.); Lawrence Connolly (3-6 p.m.); Ricky Manning "Donny Irish Band" (6-9 p.m.); Sean McClorey (9 p.m.-midnight).

Hard Rock Cafe, Station Square -- Blarney Bash with Bastard Bearded Irishmen (9 p.m.).

Mullen's Pub and Grill, 200 Federal St., North Shore-- Red Hand Paddy (2:30-5:30 p.m.).

Finnigan's Wake, 20 E. General Robinson St., North Shore -- Bands (8:30 a.m.-12:30 a.m.).

Sieb's Pub, 3382 Babcock Blvd., Ross -- Callan (5-9 p.m.).

Coach's Bottleshop and Grille, 3105 Banksville Road, Dormont -- Paddys Drunken Uncles (7 p.m.).

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