The city is looking to adjust downtown parade routes and this year's 39th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade could be the first impacted by the proposed change.
The City of Billings and the Montana Department of Transportation have requested that the long-used downtown parade route be changed to ensure that North 27th Street remains open and the downtown MET transfer center is not impacted by parade staging.
City engineer Debi Meling presented the proposed changes to the city council Monday night, which moves the parade staging area from the east side of downtown to the west side along North 32nd Street.
Parades will then travel east on Second Avenue North, turn north at Skypoint, and then turn west onto Third Avenue North. Floats will disband at Division Street and North 33rd Street.
Designated parade routes were written into city code in 1988 and so adjusting them requires approval from the city council, which voted unanimously Monday night to make the change.
Along with the changes to the downtown parade route, the city also adjusted the route Senior High uses for its homecoming parade and route used by Skyview High for its homecoming parade in the Heights.
The proposed changes will get a second reading from the council in two weeks. If it's approved at that point it will then go into effect after 30 days, which would be Feb. 28 and just in time to impact the St. Patrick's Day Parade.
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The city's St. Patrick’s Day celebration will take place downtown on Saturday, March 14. Events will include a parade, Celtic fair, and a street party hosted by Hooligan’s Sports Bar.
The parade will begin at 11 a.m., with the Celtic fair and street party taking place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The parade will be moderated for the public’s enjoyment by local radio DJ Willy Tyler, of the Desert Mountain Broadcasting group, and local blogger and “Montana Matters” host Dianne Parker. The moderators and parade judges will be seated on the Community Entertainment Stage in front of The Babcock Theatre on Second Avenue North.
The Celtic fair has also been relocated and will take place at Second Avenue North between North Broadway Avenue and North 27th Street.
Live entertainment on the Celtic Fair Community Stage, also located in front of the Babcock Theatre, will include Irish dance from the Claddagh Irish Dance Academy beginning at 12:30 p.m.
The street party will also feature an outdoor stage with live music, plus an Irish beer garden and special promotions and giveaways, according to a press release from the Downtown Billings Alliance.
For more information, or to view the new parade route, go to downtownbillings.com.