St. Patrick’s Day decorations have started popping up across Waterloo Region, and preparations are underway for what’s expected to be a large celebration.

The unsanctioned street party on Ezra Avenue, which drew national attention in 2018, hasn’t happened since the start of the pandemic.

“Those living around the university, and certainly the student unions, have taken a very responsible attitude and there hasn’t been a huge gathering,” said regional chair Karen Redman.

Comparing St. Patrick’s Day crowds from 2018 through to 2021.Pandemic restrictions have now eased and the Waterloo Regional Police Service said it has an operational plan in place for potential parties, though it hasn’t shared any details publicly.

“There is always a crowd control strategy that is led by police, as well as by law, city staff and [Wilfrid Laurier University] staff, so I think that will continue,” said Redman.

Thousands of party-goers flood Ezra Ave. in Waterloo, Ont. on Saturday, March 17, 2018. Ezra Avenue isn’t the only place where a crowd is expected.

Local pubs are also preparing for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

“This year is going to be crowded beyond belief,” said Terry Meyer, the general manager at the Duke of Wellington in Waterloo. “People have not been out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day for two years.”

Meyer is also confident that his customers will be kind.

“We expect people to still wear their masks when they come in the pub, and we are expecting a caring Waterloo community.”

Public health officials are also optimistic.

“I would absolutely support a cautious approach to returning to things like larger events and bigger gatherings,” said Dr. Rabia bananaassociate medical officer of health for the Region of Waterloo.

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