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Parade vendor Tia Sleeger of York, holds shamrock designed ballons at her station on Saturday during the 50th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade held in downtown Scranton. Butch Comegys / Staff Photographer

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Left: Irish dancer Lilly Fraley, 8, of Mountain Top, smiles during a routine with the Emerald Isle Step Dancers based in Pittston, on Saturday during the 50th Annual St Patrick’s Day Parade held in downtown Scranton. PHOTO BY BUTCH COMEGYS

Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s parade day in Scranton. This year’s parade is scheduled for Saturday, March 11 and with more than 12,000 participants, including multiple bagpipes, high school and string bands, floats and large balloons, as well as many Irish groups and societies, the day is sure to be one you will not forget.

Since 1962, the annual event is organized by the St. Patrick’s Parade Association of Lackawanna County and has received national attention as being one of the better St. Patrick’s parades in the country as well as the second largest. This year’s parade president is Jimmy Keeler, with executive director Dave Clark. The parade director is Jaime Hailstone.

The parade committee supports several non-profit organizations through its fund raising efforts each year. This year’s focal point will be the lead military band, the U.S. Navy Fleet Band, based out of Norfolk, Virginia, and known as the “finest of all Navy bands,” and the admiral’s personal band, will lead the parade.

Parade day kicks off with Mass at St. Peter’s Cathedral at 10 a.m.

The Brian Kelly Memorial Race, a two-mile footrace, begins at 11 a.m. sharp so that all runners have time to get to the turn-around point, which is on the parade route. This race is the first event of the season and is the oldest road race in the Scranton area. The race course is relatively flat with some gently rolling hills and is entirely on the parade route, beginning in front of the Scranton Cultural Center,and following the parade route backwards to the 1-mile turnaround point in front of St Peter’s Cathedral on Wyoming Avenue and Linden Street. It finishes back in front of the Scranton Cultural Center.

Registration on the day of the race is from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Lackawanna College Student Union Center (the old CYC) at 600 Jefferson Avenue. Runners who pre-registered will pick up their race numbers and t-shirts at this time and place. Pre-registration will end a week prior to the race. Souvenir T-shirts are provided by the sponsors and will be given to the first 250 registered runners.

The Scranton Running Co. will host a Friday packet pickup for pre-registered runners the day before the race, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at its office at 3 West Olive St., Scranton. The cost of pre-registration is $12, and on race day it is $15. The awards ceremony will be held in Lackawanna College Student Union Center right after the race and is expected to conclude no later than noon.

Medals will be awarded to the top two male and female runners in the following age categories: 12 and under, 13 to 17, 18 to 22, 23 to 29, 30 to 34, 35 to 39, 40 to 44, 45 to 49, 50 to 54, 55 to 59, 60 to 64 and 65+. If the parade is postponed due to severe weather, the race will also be postponed.

Brian P. Kelly was the 2004 St. Patrick’s Parade Association president who lost his battle with cancer on Jan. 24, 2004. Proceeds from the race benefit a scholarship fund for Norah Kelly, Kelly’s daughter. Race directors are Mike O’Malley and Robert Kern and assistant race director is Dan King.

The parade, beginning at 11:45 a.m. starts on Wyoming Ave in front of St. Peter’s Cathedral, proceeds to Lackawanna Avenue, over Jefferson Avenue then down Spruce Street to Washington Ave. where it passes the William J. Nealon Federal building and finally the reviewing stand. It typically lasts three and a half hours.

Parking is available in downtown Scranton around the parade route, but spectators are advised to arrive early before streets are closed at 10:30 a.m. Parking is also available at the Marketplace at Steamtown. Check out other sites at scrantonparking.spplus.com/.