Downtown Washington Inc. is going green in a big way this year to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

The annual parade is being moved to a Saturday to attract more parade participants and spectators.

In the past, the “informal” parade was held during the week on or near the actual holiday.

“It was a very casual, very laid-back parade, where people just kind of showed up, but we now want to make it more like our Holiday Parade of Lights,” said Aimee Frey, event coordinator.

The parade is being planned for Saturday, March 9, beginning at 11 a.m. at the Main and Cedar streets parking lot.

“We’re hoping because it is a Saturday, more businesses and organizations will consider putting a float or entry in, and even more school and church groups might want to participate,” Frey said. “We have invited both high school bands to perform and we’re looking for a leprechaun to help lead the parade.”

Frey said the date was chosen as not to conflict with the large St. Patrick’s Day parade held in downtown St. Louis.

“Bridgette Epple (executive director) and I went to the St. Louis parade last year to get some ideas on what we could incorporate here on a smaller scale,” she said.

The route will be the same as the Holiday Parade of Lights.

The parade will travel south on Cedar to Fifth Street; east on Fifth to Elm Street; north on Elm to Second Street; east on Second to Jefferson Street; north on Jefferson to Main Street; and then west on Main, ending at the Main and Cedar parking lots.

“Previously, the route for the St. Pat’s parade was much shorter because it was a much smaller event,” Frey said. “This year, we would love to have anywhere from 40 to 50 entries. That might be a little ambitious for our first year, but we certainly hope to grow it to that size.”

Frey expects to see more spectators along the parade route as well.

“During the week, we always had smaller crowds, but they were enthusiastic,” she said. “Now we hope to see a lot more people.”

Frey said the parade was first started and sponsored by St. Francis Borgia Parish. The downtown group took over the event several years ago at the church’s request.

The entry form can be found online or at the Downtown Washington Inc. office inside the historic post office. The entry fee is $10 and there will be an optional judging component for entries who want to participate.

“The rules are pretty simple — floats or entries must be decorated in green, the more the merrier, and candy cannot be thrown, but may be passed out by participants walking along the entry,” Frey said.

For more information, people may call the downtown office, 636-239-1743.