St. Patrick's Day isn't just a holiday for Kellie Stone. It's also her birthday and a day to celebrate her Irish heritage.
The 46th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade and Siamsa — Celtic celebration — hosted by the Hibernian Society of Utah became the perfect place for Stone to celebrate Saturday among thousands of Utahns decked out in green and shamrocks.
Stone comes every year to the parade in Salt Lake City with her daughters and parents. They love the camaraderie and fun they get to experience at the parade and festival.
"We've been in the parade before, we've won best family float before, and we come out every year just to support and have a good time," Stone said.
Her father, Dave Montague, dressed up as a leprechaun to attend the parade. He said they always come to the parade because of his daughter's birthday.
"Her grandparents are completely Irish, my wife is Irish, and the rest of us are Irish wannabes," Montague said. One of his favorite parts of the festivities is he gets to "become best friends with total strangers."
This year's parade focused on diversity within the Irish community, celebrating everyone who is Irish — whether they are 1% or 99% Irish.
The parade showcased Irish families and clans, Catholic schools, choirs, Irish dance companies, union work groups, Irish-owned businesses, radio stations, breweries, groups of Irish-breed dogs, bands of bagpipe players and drummers, and more. They marched through The Gateway downtown cheering for Ireland, riding scooters and bikes, dancing down the road, wishing others a happy holiday and just having fun along the way.
"We are excited to welcome back crowds for one of the city's favorite cultural events," said Jacklyn Briggs, The Gateway's marketing director. "This parade and festival is always one of the most highly anticipated of the year and a great kick-off to event season here at The Gateway."
Thousands of spectators waved flags and cheered on the parade from both the street and upper level of The Gateway.
Glendale resident Kevin Hobbs has Irish ancestors and said coming to the parade is a tradition for him.
"It's fun to come out," he said. "It kind of reminds me of spring too, as it's starting to get warm out."
This year, the Hobbs family had three generations represented as Hobbs brought his father and son to the parade with him.
The parade ended at Olympic Legacy Plaza where dozens of vendors offered traditional Irish fare, food, beer, activities and live performances both outdoors and in an indoor space. Restaurants already at The Gateway also had Irish specialties to celebrate the day.
Paul Head had a vendor booth for his beard care company Barbudo, which offers butters, balms, waxes, oils, shampoo and conditioning bars and more products to take care of beards and mustaches. He and three others guys saw a need for high quality beard-care products in Utah and started the company in Provo in 2019.
Head said this event was a perfect place for his company to host a booth.
"Beer, food, and beard products, they all just kind of go hand in hand. This is our people, this is our niche and it seemed like a good fit for us," Head said.
The Siamsa celebration continues until 5 p.m. Saturday. There will also be an after party at Flanker Kitchen and Sporting Club to finish off the festivities with live music and Irish food specials.