HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Huntsville is gearing up to celebrate 46 years of St. Patrick’s Day festivities in the city. The Ellen McAnelly Memorial St. Patrick’s Day Parade returns to downtown Huntsville at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday.

“The Irish, Irish-Americans, Irish-enthusiasts, people who are Irish for the day, we love everybody at the St. Patrick’s Day parade,” said parade director and Irish Society of North Alabama member Lisa Bollinger.

This year’s event will have more than 90 participating groups, including specialty car groups, a band, horses, floats, pirates, and the leprechaun on a trike, who has been in every parade since 1979.

The parade, hosted by the Irish Society of North Alabama, has a long history in Huntsville. It began outside Finnegan’s Pub on the parkway.

“There were some people in the pub,” Bollinger said. “Ellen McAnelly, the founder of the parade on St. Patrick’s Day in 1978, opened the doors and said we’re having a parade, so 18 people went out front and they marched around the pub. That began the first St. Patrick’s Day in Huntsville, and also the smallest in the United States at the time.”

The annual parade has grown in scale since 1978. This year, the Huntsville Fire and Rescue pipe band will lead the parade.

The official parade after-party will take place at Straight to Ale Brewing at Campus 805. The family-friendly event will include live music, games, drink and food specials.