Downtown Jackson preparing for Saint Patrick's Day Parade - - Jackson, MS

Downtown Jackson preparing for Saint Patrick's Day Parade

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

St. Paddy's Day Preparations are underway! Jackson's version of Mardi Gras brings thousands to the downtown area, and keeping up with all those green machines is no easy task!

The parade has a new route this year, and several events are in new locations.

The parade lineup starts at 7 a.m. at State Street and Court Street. When the actual parade starts at 1 p.m., the sea of green will head West down Court Street, using the right lanes of the road.

This year is the 35th anniversary of the parade, and bears the theme of "Artfully Alive at 35". To celebrate Mississippi art, you'll definitely want to check out the live music at Hal and Mal's after the parade, which starts up at 2:30. Tickets inside are $10.

If you are an early riser, the Fleet Feet St. Paddy's 5k starts at 8 a.m. at Pascagoula Street by the Convention Complex.

The Children's Festival will be in front of Thalia Mara Hall at 9 a.m.

And at 10 in front of the Mississippi Museum of Art will be the Hollywood Feed and St. Paddy's Pet Parade.

That's all worked out ahead of time.But actually physically setting everything up? Arden Barnett, the owner of Ardenland, who's managing the festival for Hal and Mal's says the day before the parade is crunch time.

"Actually everything gets done today for the most part," said Barnett on Friday. "All of the infrastructure gets put in today."

That means the port-a-potties, the stage, the sound system, the lights - everything. It's no small feat.

The owner of Martin's Restaurant and Bar, Joseph Stodghill, was also in that final scramble to get everything ready Friday.

"It's a lot for one day of the year, but we work on it well, well in advance. The rain's certainly not helping, but we'll get there, said Stodghill. "We've been here since 1953."

With the parade at their front door and the street party at their back, Martin's knows to expect a large crowd.

"Really all you have to do: Make sure you don't run out of any kind of alcohol, beer, food, all that. Then open the doors and go," added Stodghill. "Make sure you're well staffed - security is real important on this day, and we have a real good security plan. Make sure everybody stays safe, and if they've had too much to drink, make sure they get home without driving." 

So for these business owners, what really makes the parade worth all the trouble?

"It's a pretty amazing experience when there's 70,000 people in your hometown. It's a good deal. And it raises a lot of money for the Blair E. Batson hospital, which is the first and foremost," said Barnett.

"It's always fun to see people come enjoy Downtown Jackson, the places that are here," said Stodghill. "I always get people that may not necessarily come here the other 364 days of the year, and it's just always fun to see everyone having a good time."

The parade starts at one o'clock Saturday.

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