For most of the world, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17. For anyone living in Dallas, however, the festivities take place a little earlier. On the Saturday prior, March 11, the city of Dallas becomes flooded in a sea of green. The annual Dallas St. Patrick’s Day parade takes place as the city overflows with people of all ages dressed head to toe in varying shades of green.
The Dallas St. Patrick’s Day parade is one of a kind, seeing over 125,000 people in attendance each year. It has over 90 different parade floats entries and more than 1,700 parade participants in total, making the parade the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the Southwest. According to the Greenville Avenue Area Business Association, the host of the parade, Dallas has simple phrase surrounding the day. “It’s just what you do in Dallas for St. Patrick’s Day,” says the G.A.A.B.A. And they’re not wrong.
The parade opens its gates at the corner of Greenville Ave. and Blackwell Street, where hundreds of excitable St. Paddy’s patrons begin their long trek. The two-mile stretch of Greenville Ave. is completely shut off with barricades along each of the cross streets leaving it open for the parade-goers to wander as they please. The opportunity to drift back and forth along the road is much-appreciated by the partiers celebrating with one too many Irish drafts.
“It was rowdy. There were a lot of people causing commotion. There were people packed in every place up and down Greenville until six at night,” SMU student Connor McGrath said.
As the long walk continued some people stopped off into various bars and restaurants along the way. Places like Stan’s Blue Note and O.T. Tavern were filled with locals celebrating the Irish holiday.
“We stopped in a few places. Whichever had the shortest line but still had people in them,” SMU alumnus Chip Moloney said.
Some participants were happy to sit and relax inside one of these establishments while others were more at home rambling down the street.
“My favorite part of the parade was probably seeing all the random debauchery and anarchy in the streets literally everywhere you walked,” SMU sophomore Matt Bohannon said. His first time at the parade, Bohannon fell into the crowd that spent the day outside in the sun and warm weather. He wasn’t alone by any means. But Bohannon was also part of another crowd.
Not only was Saturday the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dallas, it was also the college basketball semifinals in the American Athletic Conference. More importantly, it was the semifinals for SMU.
The Mustangs had recently won the regular season title in their conference and had followed up with a win in the quarterfinals of the AAC Championship. This brought them to their next game, which coincided with the St. Patrick’s Day parade. As many SMU fans know, there is one great place to watch any big game: Barley House. With a wide-open patio and interior furnished with tables, booths, and television, it’s the perfect destination to watch the Mustangs. And this day was no different.
While Barley House regularly sees a solid turnout for SMU games, the added excitement and convenience of St. Patrick’s Day brought out an enormous crowd. The walls were thick with people of all ages decked out in green, eyes glued to the screens, cheering on their Mustangs. Barley was well equipped to handle the crowd. They added bars outside, provided green beer for the patrons and even fenced off a section of their parking lot for the late arrivals.
“That was the most people I’ve ever seen at Barley,” McGrath said.
It turned out to be the place to be. The Mustangs went on to win a close game and punch their ticket to the AAC championship game. The resounding victory added even more emotion to the already exuberant crowd and the happiness and Irish charm that is associated with the holiday abounded. People remained at the bar for a while after the game, wallowing in camaraderie and inebriated joy. People sat around and ate their hot wings, burgers, and fried pickles. They enjoyed the remnants of their pitchers and mixed drinks, gulping down the last drops and chatting with their friends – both new and old, bounded in green.
As the sun started to go down on the bar, the patrons slowly shuffled out. They called Ubers, cabs, and some just walked back to their various destinations. The surrounding restaurants quickly filled as the hungry parade-goers searched out some dinner before they concluded their day. The streets slowly turned back to gray rather than green and the wandering crowds dissipated into their homes. Dallas’ unique St. Patrick’s Day was finished, with a week still to go before the holiday even began.