BOSTON (WHDH) - St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Boston were in full swing for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday, as many gathered to start the party early in South Boston. 

For many, St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Friday this year only added to the excitement. 

People of all ages lined up along this weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day parade route to enjoy an array of pop-up stands in operation Friday afternoon. 

“We’re just getting ready for the parade,” Brandon Shields said as he celebrated the day. “We just start early out here.”

The parade itself will take spectators through the streets of South Boston on Sunday, starting at the Broadway T stop and wrapping up on Dorchester Avenue. The parade will get underway at 1 p.m.

Boston officials including Mayor Michelle Wu and Police Commissioner Michael Cox gathered earlier this week to  encourage those attending the parade to be safe. 

RELATED: Boston city leaders release safety tips ahead of St. Patrick’s Day festivities

As part of efforts, officials said police will be on the lookout to crack down on drinking alcohol in public. 

Officials have also discussed efforts to keep hate groups away from the parade route, with city leaders making it known that neo-Nazi hate groups that have made an appearance in the past are not welcome along the route or in the city at all. 

Those who are drinking, Cox continued, should take steps to protect themselves against drink spiking. 

As officials prepare, many on Friday said they’re hoping the three-day celebration already underway will be nothing but good fun. 

“Everybody is very festive,” one man said while selling St. Patrick’s Day T-shirts. “Everybody is in a great mood and they’re into it.”

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