After two years without a St. Patrick’s parade, the Portland celebration is coming back this year.

The annual parade, held the Sunday before the holiday, was among the first Maine events canceled because of the emerging pandemic in 2020. Last year, instead of an in-person event, the Irish American Club of Maine held a virtual parade on its website, featuring Irish performers, historians and other speakers.

Mike Freethy of the Irish American Club said the “impressive” participation last year – 10,000 views – shows the popularity of the event, and he knows many who have missed the in-person parade are excited to see it return on March 13.

Held along Commercial Street, from Portland Fish Pier to Bell Buoy Park, it will be the only sizable St. Patrick’s parade in Maine, Freethy said, with a few thousand people expected to attend. He said the Maine Irish Heritage Center will hold a smaller parade in the West End on March 17, the actual holiday.

“We are so excited. It’s our biggest event of our year,” Freethy said. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s free, family friendly. There’ll be pipe-and-drum bands, a school of Irish dancers, mascots.”

And there’ll be a lot of flags.

The Irish American Club has lined up volunteers to carry the flags of each of the 32 Irish counties and four Irish provinces, plus the flags of the United States and Ireland.

This year’s grand marshal will be Dublin native Laoise Moore, the Boston-based consul general for the Northeast region of the United States for the Irish government.

The parade will feature the Claddagh Mhor Pipe Band, the Dunlap Highland Band and the Stillson School of Irish Dance. Other marchers will include members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Maine Irish Heritage Center, Maine Gaelic Sports Alliance, Portland Hurling Club and the Ceili dancers, plus mascots from local teams and companies, dignitaries and public safety representatives.

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