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Police Increase Patrols For Return Of St. Patrick's Day Celebrations

By: Jessica Guay and Royce Jones/KDKA-TV

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Many Pittsburghers are ready to raise a green beer and celebrate the luck of the Irish like they did before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city is prepping for the full return of the St. Patrick's parade, which is happening on Saturday morning. Barricades and shamrocks can be seen on the parade route downtown Thursday.

The parade made it through wars and bad weather, like the blizzard in 1993. But when the pandemic hit in 2020, it was canceled and in 2021, it was delayed to September.

On average, more than 350,000 people attend the parade, making it one of the largest in the country and creating a big undertaking for police and EMS.

Allegheny County safety partners are prepared for large post-parade festivities at clubs, bars and restaurants, especially on the South Side, North Shore and downtown.

"Any disruptive or disorderly behavior simply won't be tolerated. There will be zero tolerance for public intoxication, fighting, public consumption of alcohol on the streets or any other disruptive behavior and we will address that quickly by either an arrest or citation," said Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Commander John Fisher.

WATCH: KDKA's Jessica Guay reports

People can expect to see temporary light towers and an increased law enforcement presence in busy nightlife areas.

Pittsburgh police, Allegheny County police and Pennsylvania state police will monitor crowds. Officers will be in plain clothes and uniforms. This includes officers from the city's mounted, motorcycle, bicycle and K-9 units.

"In the coming days, someone will drink, someone will drive and someone will die. But if we can remember the definition of fun doesn't have to include drinking or drug use, it doesn't have to include driving while impaired," said Pennsylvania State Police Corporal Greg Johnson.

"We don't want to see anyone get hurt, we don't want to see anyone get in a crash and we surely don't want to see any fatalities," said Yasmeen Manyisha with PennDOT District 11.

Safety officials urge people who plan on partying to not get behind the wheel and to use designated drivers, ride share apps, or Port Authority buses and the T.

"We are going to have full bus and rail services out; we encourage you to drink responsibly and use our service. If you need assistance, we have call service boxes you can press," said Shawn Hudzinski with the Port Authority.

Safety officials don't want anyone to have bad luck while enjoying the popular Steel City holiday.

"Come down, enjoy yourself, do it safely and remember Pittsburgh police will be out there and if you're going to drive impaired, we'll find you and we will arrest you," Pittsburgh police Sergeant Terry Donnelly.

All six DUI task forces in Allegheny County will be out along with other law enforcement agencies.

The St. Patrick's Day Parade begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, rain or shine. The parade will begin at the Greyhound Bus Station at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and 11th Street and flow through downtown Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh's Public Safety Director Lee Schmidt said since we have snow in the forecast, the size of the crowds could decrease.

Meanwhile, organizers are ready to welcome people back from all over the world for the beloved event.

"It's a destination parade. People come to Pittsburgh from all over the country. They're probably originally from Pittsburgh. Last year in the September parade, I met a guy at the end of the parade, he came up and we spoke and he was from Dublin, Ireland. He and his family were at the parade and they said it was the best parade they'd ever seen," said organize Mac McCafferty.

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