Sea of green washes through downtown

Leapin' Leprechaun 5K participants flood the finish line in festive St. Patrick's Day attire.

Traverse City transformed into a sea of green Saturday as hundreds of St. Patrick's Day enthusiasts took over the downtown area.

The Warehouse District was a central location for two big events. The first kicked off bright and early this morning as more than one thousand runners and walkers of all ages, gathered to participate in the big Leapin' Leprechaun 5K.

Participants hit the starting line while wearing some festive Irish green gear for the big race hosted by the National Cherry Festival. Despite the damp winter weather, organizers say that people came out and were ready to celebrate the spirit of St. Patrick's Day.

"We think this is an important thing to be doing year round," said National Cherry Festival Executive Director, Trevor Tkach. "It helps to promote the health benefits of the cherry, it get's people out moving around. Even though it's snowing it's still fun to come out and enjoy yourself and run with a group. So we're happy to celebrate that."

Another one thousand people paraded the streets of downtown Traverse City for the 34th annual St. Patrick's Day parade.

Hundred's lined the sidewalks to cheer as people of all ages hit the streets to show off their Irish Pride for a 45 minute parade starting and ending at the North Peak Brewing Company on Front Street.

Organizer's say that it's a tradition that gives everyone a chance to show their true Irish spirit.

"Putting this on gives us an opportunity to show our Irish heritage," says St. Patrick's Day Ambassador, Todd Mccall. "Show off a lot of pride. Show the community that we're out there. It is a great time to have fun. To get together and see friends, family, all that. Great time."

Here are some St. Patrick's Day fun facts according to the History Channel!

Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional St. Patrick's Day dish. In 2009, roughly 26.1 billion pounds of beef and 2.3 billion pounds of cabbage were produced in the United States.

Along with four leaf clovers, lime green chrysanthemums are used to help celebrate St. Patrick's Day parades and celebrations.

The very first St. Patrick's Day parade in the United States was on March 17, 1762 when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City.

More than 100 St. Patrick's Day parades are held across the United States. New York City and Boston host the largest of them.

There are 34.7 million U.S. residents with Irish ancestry. That number is more than seven times the population of Ireland itself.