Thousands expected to descend upon Deadwood for St. Patrick’s Day celebration this weekend

A decades-old tradition, the St. Patrick’s Day parade at high noon Saturday will feature all variety of green, for sure a few Irish lads and lassies and maybe even a little bit of leprechaun action. Pioneer file photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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DEADWOOD — Thousands are set to figuratively find their pots of gold at the end of the rainbow this weekend, as Deadwood’s hugely popular St. Patrick’s celebration takes to the streets of downtown Friday and Saturday. 

“There are certainly other local towns that hold parades, and bars that have specials, but nothing that’s close to the scope of what Deadwood is doing,” said Deadwood Chamber of Commerce Marketing Director Amanda Kille. “You’d probably have to go to a big city like Denver, Minneapolis, or Chicago to find a celebration of this size. For clarification, Deadwood’s celebration is held on the weekend closest to the holiday.” 

The pub crawl and corresponding clans alone pack participants in. Pair that with the leprechaun Olympics, the promise of a parade, and a St. Paddy’s Day party and the streets get populated with green pretty quickly. 

“The celebration brings thousands of people to town,” said Kille. “We usually have around 3,000 people registered for the pub crawl alone. There are actually far more in town, but we can’t get many more through registration in the four-hour window.” 

That said, chamber staff recommend arriving in the morning for registration to ensure there is plenty of time. 

Following is the clan plan. 

Those joining a clan do so at the Franklin Hotel between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, where participants must be at least 21 years of age. 

“Security verifies age before the participant is assigned to one of 20 clans during registration,” Kille said. “We don’t take advanced clan requests, but during registration you can ask to be on the same clan as your friends as long as it’s not at max capacity. Each clan has its own security guard that guides the group to their nine scheduled locations over the course of four hours. Then, all clans head back to the Franklin for the awards and 

after-party.” 

Other items on the St. Paddy’s weekend agenda include: 8 p.m. Thursday, St. Panties Day at Saloon No. 10, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society; 6-9 p.m. Friday Leprechaun Olympics, with registration 5-7 p.m. at Oyster Bay and 9:15 p.m. award party at the Franklin Hotel; 11 a.m. Saturday stew and chili feed in front of Mineral Palace and Hickok’s, with all donations going to Lion’s Club missions; noon Saturday St. Paddy’s parade on Main Street; noon to 4 p.m. Saturday St. Paddy’s poker run; 2:30-6:30 p.m. Saturday pub crawl; 7 p.m. Saturday St. Paddy’s party. 

Although the chamber likes to stick with what works, considering that formula tends to consistently bring thousands to town, there are a couple of new and different additions to this year’s line-up. 

“On Friday night, we have added a few new games to the Leprechaun Olympics. The Saturday Pub Crawl is so popular, we’ll never change the format. But, there are several new locations that have signed up to participate this year,” Kille said. “As a chamber and visitors bureau, we are tasked with bringing people to town, filling hotel rooms and generating taxable sales for the community. There is no question, this is one of the best weekends of the year when it comes to hitting those goals and it’s even more impactful because it occurs in March. We’re told over and over that St. Paddy’s festivities are among the best weekends of the year for bars and restaurants. We actually have more businesses that want to participate as a pub crawl location than we have room for.” 

While the chamber, through its event-hosting arm, is charged with bringing new business to town, the St. Paddy’s Day celebration sometimes doesn’t get the best rap. That said, the organization is doing all it can to minimize mishaps over the weekend. 

“Does this event appeal to everyone? No,” Kille said. “But with over 20 major events and over 40 ticketed shows taking place year-round in Deadwood, there is something for everyone to enjoy. That said, there are a lot of people that make this event their can’t-miss, getaway of the year with their friends. The format of the event encourages exploration of the town and patronage of the various businesses and inspires a sense of adventure among attendees. Historic Main Street takes on a festival atmosphere with the sound of pipe and drum bands echoing off the historic buildings. For this event in particular, we take numerous precautions with safety in mind, including requesting and receiving street closure, hiring a large amount of private security and holding the parade at high noon, so it’s more family-friendly. For the most part, people are relatively well behaved.”

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