St. Paddy’s celebrations, NCAA fans will keep Philly police and bartenders busy — this week and next

 In this file photo, retired Philadelphia police Sgt. Chuck Warren struts down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia dressed as a leprechaun for the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. (Jim Graham/AP Photo, file)

In this file photo, retired Philadelphia police Sgt. Chuck Warren struts down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia dressed as a leprechaun for the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. (Jim Graham/AP Photo, file)

With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Friday this year, bars in Philadelphia are expecting big crowds, and law enforcement is preparing for the worst.

Festivities actually begin this weekend but will likely pick up again Thursday night and continue through the 19th.

The city’s popular Erin Express will once again transport revelers to an array of Philadelphia’s watering holes on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

And on Sunday, Philadelphia’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is set to step off at noon with a theme of “St. Patrick, Protect and Guide our Police Officers.” Attendees include Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Those celebrating the wearing of the green will come across a multitude of those wearing the blue.

“You’ll see in places like South Street, or places where there are commercial districts and places known for partying and reveling and things like that, you will see a little added police presence,” said Philadelphia Police Capt. Sekou Kinebrew.

Next weekend, while thousands toast St. Patrick and the Emerald Isle, basketball fans will be focused on the NCAA tournament games.

“People end up taking a half day at work and going out and enjoying the games that are going on,” said Councilman Mark Squilla. “March Madness starts and a couple of beverages.”

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