The Ultimate Detroit St. Patrick’s Parade Guide

What you should know about one of America’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in Detroit’s oldest neighborhood.
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The Metro Detroit Police and Fire Pipes and Drums at the annual Detroit St. Patrick’s Parade. // Photograph courtesy of Michael Kelly

As sure as a late Michigan winter, the annual Detroit St. Patrick’s Parade takes place this year on March 10 at 1 p.m. Since 1958, the parade has been honoring Detroit’s Irish history, as well as celebrating Corktown’s continued progress.

Given its ranking as the 23rd largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the country with tens of thousands of attendees, it is no wonder the parade is celebrating its 66th successful year.

Led by Michael Kelly, the parade chairman, and with the help of Grand Marshals Maureen and Norm Root, the 2024 parade promises to keep old traditions alive, as well as newer fun family-friendly events.

The Basics

The parade steps off at Sixth Street and Michigan Avenue and continues along Michigan Avenue, ending at 14th Street (near Michigan Central).

“We should have anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 people down there celebrating our Irish heritage and recognizing the charitable contributions of the United Irish Society member groups,” Kelly says.

With a packed parade of more than 3,000 participants and more than two hours of entertainment, attendees can look forward to everything from marching groups and bagpipers to the gang from Ghostbusters Detroit and its team of paranormal investigators.

The Music and Dance

In keeping with the traditional spirit of the event, a number of local (and international) groups will be performing Irish step dance, bagpipes, and drums, alongside almost a half-dozen high school marching bands.

Favorites such as the Ardán Academy of Irish Dance, Motor City Irish Dance, the Shannon Irish Dance Academy, and the Metro Detroit Police and Fire Pipes and Drums will add to the sounds and spectacle.

An exciting addition to this year’s parade is the Windsor Police Pipe Band from just across the bridge, which hasn’t participated in years.

Returning high school marching bands from last year’s parade include those from Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology, River Rouge High School, Roosevelt High School, and Wayne Memorial High School.

The Family Fun Zone

For $12 a person, or $60 for a family of six, attendees can access the Family Fun Zone, offering exclusive grandstand seating from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

There will be face painting and refreshments — plus, Paws and Roary will be there to hang out with the kids from 12:30 to 12:50 p.m.

The pass also comes with one parking spot (passenger vehicles only) in a lot at Howard and Sixth streets. Entry is limited to 275 attendees, though, so make sure to guarantee your spot by ordering ahead online.

Before the parade begins, children can meet up with Tigers and Lions mascots Paws and Roary in the Family Fun Zone. // Photograph courtesy of Michael Kelly

The Corktown 5K

For those interested in getting a workout prior to the parade, the annual Corktown 5K will take place at 11 a.m., starting and ending at Roosevelt Park.

A shorter 1-mile distance is available at 10:40 a.m., and the kid-friendly quarter-mile option starts at 10:30 a.m.

The Parking

Attendees should plan on arriving early to guarantee a parking spot near the parade. Parking on the south side of Michigan Avenue is limited, so folks should plan on heading north, where more spots will be available.

The Bathroom Situation

Port-a-johns will be located along the parade route and can be sponsored for $125, a perfect opportunity for local businesses or families attending the parade. Each sponsor will have their name posted outside the port-a-john.

Sponsorship and Donor Opportunities

In order to keep the tradition of the Detroit St. Patrick’s Parade alive and well, the United Irish Societies (which has hosted the parade since 1958) and parade group rely on support from parade attendees and fundraisers such as the Fish Dinner Fridays at the Ancient Order of Hibernians Hall in Redford.

“People that have been coming for years as a family Irish tradition, we’d love to have you make a small donation of whatever you can afford to continue this great Irish tradition,” Kelly says.

Donations can be made on the parade website.

For more information about Detroit’s St. Patrick’s Day parade — including how to volunteer to help with future parades — go to detroitstpatricksparade.com.


This story is from the March 2024 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition.