By Marielle Mohs

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s been nearly two years since bagpipes have sounded on March 17, but on Wednesday afternoon, they rang loud and clear down Marion Street in St. Paul.

The St. Patrick’s Day parade, put on by the St. Paul St. Patrick’s Association, hosted their first parade since 2019. It was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic shutdown, which started March 13.

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“It’s just so nice, this is something we do every year,” said Lee Freitag, who brought his whole family to the parade this year, “We go down to St. Paul and we take the kids out of school and everything for it.”

The annual St. Paul St. Patrick’s Day parade is a longtime family tradition for the Freitag Family of Cottage Grove.

“It was [my wife’s] dad’s favorite holiday and he took it very seriously,” said Freitag, “He passed away a few years ago, so we’re keeping up the tradition for him.”

While people are thrilled to have a parade again, it comes with a twist. To keep things safe, families stayed in their cars, driving through the route, waving from a distance to dignitaries, like the parade Grand Marshall, who, because of the circumstances, has held his title for two years now.

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“I’m…speechless! Unbelievable, super honored,” said Chief Butch Inks, with St. Paul Fire Dept., the 2020 Parade Grand Marshall, “I grew up in this city, grew up going to this parade.”

Just down the road from the parade, Sweeney’s Saloon Irish pub made it a point to reopen just in time for the holiday.

“We have a corned beef and cabbage dinner, then we have a Ruben or Rachel special [on the menu],” said Peter McCormick, general manager of Sweeney’s Saloon.

The Irish pub on Cathedral Hill has been closed down since the second restaurant shutdown in November. McCormick said it was important for them to be open for their biggest money making holiday, even if they’re still not at full capacity.

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“It doesn’t feel totally normal, but it definitely does feel good to be back open and like we’re getting passed this,” said McCormick.

Marielle Mohs