PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Thousands of people are expected to head to Downtown Pittsburgh this weekend for the annual Saint Patrick’s Day celebration.

Most people will gather on Saturday for the city’s annual parade, which is believed to be one of the largest in the country.

READ MORE: Bethel Park Residents On High Alert After 2 Home Break-Ins

This year’s route starts at 11th and Liberty, winds down Grant Street and then onto the Boulevard of the Allies. The parade starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

But, people who want to get a good spot should head Downtown long before that.

Outlying streets near the parade route will begin closing at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, including many roads along Liberty Avenue between 10th Street to 26th Street.

The parade route itself will be shut down at 9:30 a.m. The event should wrap up around 1:30 p.m.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly option after the parade, there will once again be an “Irish Fair in the Square” in Market Square this year. People who want to participate can show up between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

There will be additional police officers along this year’s parade route, and in Market Square, to help keep people safe.

There will also be extra officers on the South Side, watching for people who are drunk in public, or underage drinkers.

“We’re going to have undercover officers in the crowd looking for illegal activity, “says Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar. “You’ll see K-9 officers with their dogs doing sweeps. That’s not because we have any threats, it’s just a deterrent.”

Workers will also be cleaning up as the celebration shifts to other parts of the city.

“The Downtown Partnership will be cleaning up the sidewalks and trash cans while Public Works takes care of the barricades, street cleaning and so forth,” says Operations Chief Guy Costa.

Crews from Pittsburgh Public Works are also setting up portable toilets around town.

READ MORE: Strange Line Of Lights Reported Across Sky By People In Western Pennsylvania

If you are heading to the South Side to celebrate, officials are encouraging people to park in three valet lots that will be set up, instead of on the street.

“The plan for Public Works is, after the bars close at 2 a.m. [Sunday], Public Works will be blitzing the South Side,” says Costa. “[They’ll] bring in street sweepers, bring in laborers, bring in whatever’s necessary to get the South Side cleaned up overnight.”

Above all else, event organizers say safety and cleanliness is a top priority.

“It’s our goal, and our job to make sure these events are handled in a manner that’s respectful to our neighborhoods,” says Chief of Staff, Kevin Acklin.
Chairperson of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Pat O’Brien joined the “KDKA Morning News” with Larry Richert and John Shumway Thursday.

“Depending on the weather, we could have anywhere from 175,000 (to) on a good day the police estimated a few years ago we had almost 400,000 (people),” he said.

O’Brien knows that some like to have a few alcoholic beverages, but he says they do their best to make the St. Patrick’s Day parade family-friendly and a non-alcohol event.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday O’Brien says there will be a family-friendly event in Market Square.

“For People traveling through, we’ll have bands playing and Irish dancers there also. No alcohol in Market Square until after 2 p.m.,” he said.

UPDATE (March 12, 2015):
The Port Authority says 45 bus routes will be detoured Downtown and in the Strip District during the parade. Some detours in the Strip District will begin around 7:30 a.m. All the rest go into effect at 9 a.m.

For more information on all the detours, visit the Port Authority’s website at this link.

Regular service will be restored around 2:30 p.m.

MORE NEWS: 11-Year-Old Boy In Stable Condition After Being Shot By Stray Bullet In Upper Hill District

Join The Conversation On The KDKA Facebook Page
Stay Up To Date, Follow KDKA On Twitter