St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festivities; Pittsburgh Opera Opens ‘La Traviata’ at Benedum (Sat., 3/16/24)

1) If your neighborhood seems a little quiet the morning of March 16, it may be because over 200,000 Pittsburghers and visitors are downtown for The St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Having begun as early as 1869 and billed as one of the oldest and largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the country, it includes bands, Irish organizations, Miss Smiling Irish Eyes, and just about every politician in Allegheny County. The 2024 Grand Marshal is Robert Tierney, and Miss Smiling Irish Eyes is Madalyn Byrnes. Members of the Queen’s court are Anna Catherine Hanley and Brooke Ireland McArdle.

Each year brings something slightly different, although who could forget the 1993 parade? It continued despite a blizzard, the worst that the city had seen in over 100 years. (Hopefully no snow this year.) 

The parade begins at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and 11th Street, proceeds to Grant Street, and turns right onto the Boulevard of the Allies. Then it marches down the Boulevard to the parade reviewing stand at Stanwix Street and ends at Commonwealth Place.

Remember, anyone who wants to be Irish—is Irish—on St. Paddy’s Day! Parade starts at 10 a.m. Downtown. (R.H.)

Parade Day Bar Happenings

The day and eve of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade make a good time to have a taste of Ireland’s native waters. (Guinness, Harp, and Murphy’s brews are some good ones as are Tullamore D.E.W. and Jameson Irish whiskies.) Have an old Irish toast, such as “May you be in heaven a full half hour before the devil knows you’re dead,” in any of several happenin’ Irish pubs including Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle, McArdle’s, Murphy’s Taproom, McFadden’s, Kelly’s Bar Lounge, and Riley’s Pour House. For those who don’t imbibe or are designated drivers (thank you!), enjoy a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake, a soft drink, or a cup o’ hot tea. (RH)

One of the most popular spots to celebrate the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Day is Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle. The pub will open at 8 a.m. and serve a parade day breakfast. With a tent connected to the pub, the celebration space is doubled. Irish bands and performers hold court all day and night in both spaces beginning at noon and going until about 1 a.m. Mullaney’s will be featuring the top bands on the Pittsburgh Irish music scene including: Donnie Irish Band, Whiskey Limerick, Skipper Johnson Band, Maddie Arnold Band, Mark Guiser, and Guaranteed Irish. Mullaney’s will also feature a big party on the actual St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, with the tent remaining and live music in both spaces. Several of the same bands will be reprising their performances. 2329 Penn Ave., Strip District. (R.H.)

Think traditional Celtic music but with some extra beats per minute—that’s Bastard Bearded Irishmen. The local group is helping Pittsburgh usher in St. Patrick’s Day with its annual Bastard Bearded Irishfest at Thunderbird Cafe and Music Hall (5:30 p.m.). Also on the bill is The Filthy Lowdown, Platinum Moon, and Joel & Bob.  The band will perform earlier that day at Pittsburgh Brewing’ Irish City event. Additionally you can catch the Bastards at the Hollywood Casino at The Meadows (Friday, March 15, 8 p.m.) and at St. Patty’s Hangover at Hard Rock Cafe (Saturday, March 30). Bastard Bearded Irishmen’s most recent album is 2018’s Drinkin’ to the Dead. (C.M., R.H.)

Hard Rock Cafe is hosting their annual parade day party. Many people will flock there to see free live music beginning at noon and continuing to 10 p.m. from Rich Patrick Trio, Acoustic Boombox, and No Way Out. 230 W. Station Square Dr., Station Square. (R.H.)

Area native Donnie Iris, aka King Cool, is performing at the UPMC Events Center with his band, The Cruisers. Sure to be on the set list are top favorites including “Ah Leah” and “Love Is Like a Rock.” Iris was once a member of the Pittsburgh group The Jaggerz in the early ’70s who had a monster hit with the “The Rapper,” which reached no. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Helping Iris celebrate the Luck of the Iris is top Pittsburgh band, The Clarks. Special guest is The Vindys. A portion of each ticket will be donated to the American Cancer Society. 7 p.m. 6001 University Blvd., RMU, Moon Twp. (R.H.)


LA TRAVIATA (opera) by Giuseppi Verdi, presented by Pittsburgh Opera, March 16, 19, 22 & 24.

Violetta Valéry (Vuvu Mpofu), Alfredo Germont (Duke Kim)and the party guests make a toast to the sweetness of love. (Photo: David Bachman Photography for Pittsburgh Opera)

Violetta Valéry (Vuvu Mpofu), Alfredo Germont (Duke Kim)and the party guests make a toast to the sweetness of love. (Photo: David Bachman Photography for Pittsburgh Opera)

2) For Pittsburgh audiences who may not have yet experienced great opera, La Traviata ranks among the most popular works to convert new fans. And, unlike many other classics, La Traviata has a simple plot and few characters to follow, a sometimes arduous task when the lyrics are all in Italian. Violetta Valéry is the central character, a “fallen woman” to her family’s social circle, but a high-spirited and beloved joy in the world of the rich and decadent. She is courted by Alfredo Germont whose father fears the worst for his son—not to mention a daughter soon to be wed—and tries his best to sabotage their romance. Yet, Violetta and Alfredo affirm their “match made in heaven,” until Violetta is forced to return to her more humble roots. Ill deeds and ill health have caused pains that may never heal. Indeed, La Traviata is a tragedy of epic and eloquent proportions. Pittsburgh Opera features soprano Vuvu Mpofu and tenor Duke Kim in the lead roles performing under the direction of Conductor Antony Walker and Stage Director Kristine McIntyre. 8 p.m. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (C.P.O.)

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Rick Handler

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