Hundreds of thousands expected in downtown Cleveland this St. Patrick's Day

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - With thousands of people expected to descend on downtown Cleveland for St. Patrick's Day, bars, restaurants, and parade volunteers have kept busy.

"It's the largest single-day event in the City of Cleveland annually," said United Irish Societies Executive Director Shannon Corcoran. "The best way I can describe it is, once I'm down there I don't stop smiling for the rest of the day."

In the past, Corcoran said they've seen anywhere from 200,000 to more than 500,000 people. This year is the event's 175 year anniversary.

Because of the big crowds, restaurants, like Al's Deli, have been preparing for days by making corned beef and cabbage.

"We're just expecting a lot of fun. We're fully staffed, we're fully loaded with food, so anyone in Cleveland coming downtown for the day, swing by Al's Deli. We'll be ready," said owner David Ina.

Ina said they plan to feed more than 1,000 people Friday.

Across town, at Flannery's Irish Pub, General Manager Sean O'Donnell expects a packed house, too.

"Cleveland's got such a huge Irish base," O'Donnell said. "I started thinking about this the first of the year, it really takes that long."

Workers at Flannery's already set up tents outside and plan to open their doors at 6 a.m. Friday.

"People have been spending St. Paddy's Day here for 20 years. This is our 20th year," O'Donnell said.

People heading to Friday's parade can expect a little bit of everything. From traditional Irish bands and dance, to special appearances from Wizard World Comic Con, which will not only be in the parade, but also at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland Friday through Sunday.

"It's thousands of people. It's a party atmosphere," said Corcoran.

No matter what the weather is, parade organizers said the fact the holiday falls on a Friday means they're expecting a big turnout. The parade officially kicks off at 1:04 p.m. Friday. It'll likely run to about 4 p.m.

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