I know I’ve covered the Scranton St. Patrick’s Day Parade but it’s my absolute favorite day of the year and I will forever strive to be it’s greatest champion. At this point you have approximately 3.5 weeks to prepare yourself for the greatest Irish party on the east coast. I don’t care that New York and Boston and Savannah (wtf, right?) are the top 3 St. Patrick’s Day parades in the United States. Scranton is the place to be.
This year the Parade Day will be held on March 15. The parade kicks off at noon, which is great because in other years it was eleven, which in my expert opinion is too damn early. You want to get a good two hours of drinking and carrying on before the parade begins (#cleanliving) and I’m too old to wake up at 7:30 or 8:00 to drink anymore.
As I mentioned, the parade is officially the fourth largest in the country (they used to claim it was the third but even the Visit NEPA website is now agreeing that we succeed to Savannah, which I mean, it’s below the Mason Dixon line…this is not Lackawanna Wonderful) and a really big deal for Scranton and the Lackawanna valley. Technically the parade starts with a 10:00 AM mass at St. Peter’s Cathedral, if that’s your thing, but for most of us it starts in bars, house parties or hotel rooms.
If you’re a first timer (if you’ve been before, you had a blast and don’t need me telling you anything about what to do) I’d recommend either finding a hotel or staying with someone local. Aside from the Red Roof Inn (which I’m not going to endorse simply from outside judgements), most of the hotels in and around Scranton will only take reservations for the entire weekend. As much as I like the Radisson and Hilton (and their respective bars) their prices are hiked up ridiculously high and they enforce a wristband policy, meaning that only those who stay in the hotel are allowed into the rooms. If you don’t know anyone else attending the parade, that’s probably not a big deal, but if like me, one of your favorite parts is pregaming with friends (and a sweet Irish playlist) in the hotel room prior to hitting the streets and you’ll want friends to stop by, this may be an annoyance (unless you’re all staying at the same spot).
I always stay at the Clarion. It’s reasonably priced, provides a free and delicious breakfast and has a pool and hot tub if you need a soak after all the festivities. It’s an easy walk to downtown but won’t break your bank and you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg or fight for parking (can you tell I think you should stay there?). It’s across the street from the liquor store, beer distributors and Chick’s my favorite Scranton diner.
I have a special affinity for the parade since I’m from NEPA and my family traditionally has always attended. I also went to the University of Scranton. We don’t have a football team so in a sense this is like our homecoming. It’s also the reason that I can’t give you a eye witness account of what bars to go to down-town because I never really make it there.
I center my day on the intersection of Taylor and Mulberry for nostalgia’s purposes and bounce between Goodfellas and Oscars (my favorite college bar). If you do this you’ll probably feel like the old guy at the party (which I did last year but will reluctantly do so again in order to recapture those collegiate glory days). Downtown there will be revelers of all ages. Scranton has a ton of bars to chose from (which is probably why Lackawanna County frequently makes lists like this) but you want to make sure you’re somewhere close to the parade route.
Arguably the epicenter of the parade madness is Kildares or the Radisson Party. You’ll have to pay a cover for both (I’m assuming) which, warning, might be sort of steep (which is why I encourage you to pregame). Both of these parties will have outdoor areas, bands, food and are located in the very middle of the parade route (and directly across the street from one another). Neither bar website has any info up yet, but here’s an example of the Radisson’s from last year.
The other epicenter would be along Linden street where The Backyard Alehouse and Mulligans sit next to one another. Linden is closed for pedestrian traffic only and while the parade doesn’t pass down that road, it does go by both ends of the block. The Backyard Alehouse is one of my favorite Scranton bars and I’ve actually never been to Mulligans now that it’s Mulligans (it’s one of those places constantly changing hands, most infamously formerly Tink’s) but it’s definitely the “cool” new bar in Scranton (and it’s not that new, I just don’t get there as often as I like.
If you’re looking for cheaper options you could venture into Rocky’s (no website, so you know it’ll be cheap) which is right next door to Kildares. Rocky’s is a beautiful disaster in the truest sense of the word, the inside described by one astute yelp reviewer as looking like the “inside of an 80’s strip club,” but you might want to venture there just for the story. The Green Frog is closeish to the parade route (also, no website) and pretty collegy without getting too undergrad-like but the best place to go, and I’m even sort of hesitant to say because I don’t want it to get too crowded is Whiskey Dick’s, which I always end my night at.
I strongly suggest taking Scranton Parade day by storm if you haven’t already. If you’re already indisposed of that day, check out this link which shows you all the St. Patrick’s Day parades Pennsylvania offers throughout March.