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Parade to kick off St. Patrick's festivities, affect traffic

| Saturday, March 12, 2016, 12:21 a.m.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald crowns Fiona Connolly, 20, of Swisshelm Park the 2016 'Miss Smiling Irish Eyes' at the Rivers Club, Downtown, Friday, March 11, 2016.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald crowns Fiona Connolly, 20, of Swisshelm Park the 2016 'Miss Smiling Irish Eyes' at the Rivers Club, Downtown, Friday, March 11, 2016.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Fiona Connolly, 20, of Swisshelm Park leads a procession with the 2016 'Miss Smiling Irish Eyes' court maidens at the 50th Annual crowning of 'Miss Smiling Irish Eyes' at the Rivers Club, Downtown, Friday, March 11, 2016.

Tens of thousands of people will converge Downtown to celebrate St. Patrick's Day on Saturday, though the official holiday will be several days away.

The parade kicks off the celebration at 10 a.m. Marchers will step off at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and Grant Street, proceeding to the Boulevard of the Allies and to the grandstand at Stanwix Street.

Organizers expect more than 20,000 people to march in the parade, and thousands more to line the streets and watch.

Motorists should expect delays and street closures after 7:30 a.m. Streets should begin reopening by 1 p.m., the mayor's office said, but those attending other Downtown events should plan for delays or consider taking public transit.

More than 40 Port Authority bus routes will be detoured temporarily as early as 7:30 a.m. but should resume regular routing by 2:30 p.m. Call 412-442-2000 for more information.

The family-friendly Parade Fest celebration will take place in Market Square from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Streets leading into Market Square will be closed to through-traffic.

Starting at 2 p.m., open containers will be permitted in the plaza space. Last call is at 5:30 p.m., and Market Square will be cleared of patrons by 6 p.m.

To reduce drunken driving, Pittsburgh will offer free parking and shuttle services all day to the South Side.

The Pittsburgh Transportation Group is providing three shuttle buses that will run from a Pittsburgh Parking Authority Lot on Second Avenue near the Allegheny County Jail to Carson Street.

Shuttles will run from 7 a.m. Saturday to 4 a.m. Sunday and stop along Carson at 12th, 15th, 17th, 19th and 22nd streets. Parking in the lot, which has space for 810 vehicles, will be free until noon Sunday.

Parking will be prohibited on the south side of Carson, from 12th to 18th streets, to create a traffic lane for shuttles and emergency vehicles and a passenger pickup zone.

The south side of the 1700 block of Carson will be reserved for valet service, taxis, ride-share companies and private individuals to pull in and pick up passengers.

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