Community Events

Salt Lake City’s Saint Paddy’s Day Parade

Paint the town green on March 16th at the 46th annual Salt Lake City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade starts at 11am at The Gateway with drinks, food, and music.


I have been to several parades in Salt Lake City — Fourth of July, Pioneer Day, etc., but nothing beats the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It did not take me long to realize that happy people dressed in green, dancing to Celtic tunes, and smelling of Guinness is my thing. The atmosphere is contagious, and even though I do not like Guinness, I love the spirit of the community built around it. 

This year commemorates the 46th year of the event, and now tens of thousands of people show up to watch it. The celebration takes over the whole city. But how did it all start?

In 1977, four Irish friends, John Francis Welsh, Robert Emmet Quinn, John Brockert, and Michael Rodman, were drinking green beer and singing songs on St. Patrick’s Day at Club Stanyon Street in SLC. 

They had repeated the same routine for the seven previous years, but this year was different. Around 3:30 pm, after a healthy meal and a few green beers, they came up with the genius idea to have a parade and to have it right then! So they got up and started walking. Soon, more people joined them. The police, at first bewildered, started escorting them. After they made their round back to Stanyon, they decided to do it every year. And that is how St. Patrick’s parade was born.

However, to be able to continue to put together the parade legally and obtain the required permits, they needed to have some sort of official organization, so they formed the Hibernian Society of Utah. Hibernia is the ancient name for Ireland.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a huge endeavor requiring four months of preparation and 150 exceptional volunteers, but it’s not the only thing the Hibernian Society is involved in. 

“When we have been fortunate enough to derive a profit from putting on the event, we use the proceeds to support local charities and causes that align with the mission of the organization. And in 2022 we donated $3,017 to the Ukrainian Association that was providing aid to Ukraine because it was really close to the beginning of the conflict there,” explains Sean Clark, president of the society.

Besides supporting various charities such as Fisher House and Shriners Children’s Hospital to name a few, they organize other events such as Irish Poetry Nights and summer picnics in support of The Ulster Project of Utah

The Ulster Project brings teenagers from Northern Ireland (Catholic and Protestant in equal numbers) to Utah each summer for a month to help them “learn and practice the skills needed to promote tolerance and respect across the lines that divide them.”

Part of Hibernian Society’s mission is to “advocate for fair and just immigration policies, champion free political and religious expression, and demand justice for all.” This very lofty goal, according to Clark, is rooted in the following: 

“So many Irish families came to the United States during the great famine. They found homes, they found livelihoods and opportunities in America. So they had a tremendous appreciation for America while they also still had a tremendous tie to the homes that they left because they had to, not because they wanted to or because they didn’t like where they were at. So there’s a strong affinity and relationship still for their homeland. And I think what that has done is engender a soft spot in the hearts of Irish people for anyone who is faced with the challenges of immigrating to a different country. And that is why we support policies for immigration that are just, and why we have a soft spot for people seeking opportunity and seeking to make their way in our country.”

The spirit of inclusion permeates the fabric of this society and everybody, independent of their heritage, is welcome to join.

I am looking forward to the St. Patrick’s Parade this year. It will take place on Saturday, March 16, starting at The Gateway at 11 am. After the parade, the event will continue until 5 pm, with two music stages, one outdoor on the plaza and one indoor stage at 79 S Rio Grande. This big party with the Irish drinks, food and music is called Siamsa, which is a Gaelic term for a traditional Irish party.

All the event’s profits are generated from alcohol sales and then donated back to various charities. All people involved are volunteers.

Utah Stories story telling event.
Beer and Freedom event. Tell your story. We will not cancel you, but we may buy you a beer.

Many Salt Lake establishments are joining in celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day. One of them is Mountain West Cider. Since 2016, in collaboration with Red Rock Brewing and the Hibernian Society of Utah, the trio has been busy organizing the 4th West Fest. This event will also be on Saturday, March 16, from 11 am until 6 pm at The Garten at Mountain West Cider Co. They will be serving special drinks such as Pomme Paloma Hard Cider (grapefruit and hopped cider) and a new spring drink with Matcha, Lemon & Peach. Food will be available from Shylo’s Mobile Café, and live music will be performed by the Irish band, Swagger. Everyone is welcome, including your little leprechauns. 

Salt Lake’s iconic pubs, Piper Down and Green Pig Pub, are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day all weekend long with live music and DJs.

Also, an inordinate number of pub crawls is taking place starting Friday, March 15th. Here are some I came across:

  •  Salt Lake City St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl on March 16
  • Salt Lake City Official St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, starting at Green Pig Pub
  • Shamrock Stroll Bar Crawl on March 16
  • Luck of the Irish Bar Crawl on March 15
  • Salt Lake City’s Best St. Patrick’s Day Weekend Bar Crawl March 16 and 17

With a long tradition of festivities and celebrations, everyone can be Irish, if only for a day.

Erin go Bragh! (Ireland forever!)

Feature Image and other photos by Kimberleigh Collins-Peyanud/Hibernian Society of Utah.

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