ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — St. Patrick’s Day is just over a week away.

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara proclaimed this week as “Irish Marching Society Week” Monday evening.

Downtown Rockford will be a sea of green on Saturday as the Irish Marching Society holds its annual parade and “Paddyfest.”

Some changes to the route and a new location for the afterparty will get attendees closer to the dyed green river.

“Therefore I, Thomas P. McNamara, as Mayor of the City of Rockford, do hereby proclaim the week of March 6th, 2023 to be Irish Marching Society Week,” McNamara said.

It is perhaps the biggest week of the year for the Irish Marching Society as members prepare for the 47th Annual “St. Patrick’s Day Parade” down State Street.

The group was honored with a special proclamation on Monday night.

“It does feel special to, you know, have the support of the City and the council,” said Tyler Pickering of the Irish Marching Society.

Preparation for the festivities started long before March.

“We usually start preparing right after the first of the year,” Pickering said. “We kind of start working with the city and the police and traffic control to kind of create the route, and then we’ll work with the venue to kind of create the Paddyfest.”

The big parade is followed by a party with live Irish music and a traditional Irish meal of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes.

It will be held at The Standard, 214 E State St., this year.

“We wanted to have the parade get close to the river, or as close as possible. Hopefully, eventually crossing the river as we attempt to dye it green, so we can have more people come down and view the green river, take the photo op, you know, put it on social media,” Pickering said. “And, The Standard just happens to [be] right along that route, so it made sense.”

Having the parade go along the river also encourages people to go and check out the bright green water. It is a lot of work, but the group hopes for another successful year.

“When we get there on Saturday, it’s like herding cattle to try to get the Irishmen in line to get where they’re supposed to,” said Mike Boland of the Irish Marching Society. “It’s not easy.”

The Irish Marching Society is still in need of volunteers for Saturday’s event. Residents can sign up on the Irish Marching Society’s website.