In Dundee Township, spring isn't here until the weather warms and the St. Patrick's Day festivities happen.

The fun will start Saturday, March 10, beginning with a Dublindee Kilted 5K run at 8:30 a.m.

As many as 400 runners, the same number as last year, are expected to step off near the Lifeline Plumbing building, at 296 Williams Place in East Dundee, and run south along the Fox River bike path. When they have warmed their souls and bodies, they and spectators can walk a few blocks north and take in everything that defines Dundee's arrival of spring.

Singing birds, budding flowers and, hopefully, warming sun will compete with a corned beef contest, circus acts, Irish dancers, decorated shop windows, Big Wheel races and the party's centerpiece -- The Thom McNamee Memorial St. Patrick's Day Parade.

"It will be so much fun," said the founder's sister, Eileen McNamee. "People have been waiting for this and talking about this for weeks."

The parade begins at 11 a.m. Saturday at the corner of Wenholz Avenue and Water Street in East Dundee. Spectators -- traditionally hundreds of them -- can watch the 80 units roll past as it proceeds along Water Street to Barrington Avenue to North River Street.

For those who can't wait, a pet parade will begin at shortly before 10 a.m. along North River Street near the Dundee Township Visitor's Center. There, local officials will sit in a grandstand and judge the costumed pets and main parade floats. Registration for the pet parade will end at 9:30 a.m.

"No politicians will be in the parade this year," McNamee said. "None were in it last year."

Local Olympic hero and skater Bradie Trennell, a Carpentersville resident, will march, McNamee said. She will be in the grandstand as well as the local Irish queen and princess.

This rite of spring started more than 10 years ago when Eileen's brother, Thom McNamee, an East Dundee businessman, worked to give his Irish heritage a local name.

Thom McNamee wanted to share the party's goodwill and collected money for local charities. The local FISH Food Pantry, The Boys' and Girls' Club of Dundee Towns, and Friends of the Fox group will benefit this year from money collected from the 5K race, parade registration fees and the $5 shamrocks local businesses are selling.

Thom McNamee died in 2009 at 56 years old of cancer. He had owned East Dundee restaurants Bandito Barney's and Rosie O'Hare's.

After he crafted the first one or two St. Patrick's Days parties, Andrew Burns, the owner of Emmett's Brewing Co. in West Dundee, expanded on the festivities. He invited local residents to climb onto the children's tricycle, The Big Wheel, and race them down hilly streets near his Route 72 Restaurant.

Those races continue and will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

"The racers pretty much depend on gravity to get them across the finish line," said Amanda Guttke, Emmett's manager. "People can join in one of three categories: stock, model or outlaw. They are not motorized. We added a new category: exhibition. Those bikes can have motors, but they can't compete in the races."

Winners will be awarded prizes and spectators can view the races on a large-screen monitor.

Before the races, Emmett's will have its own banquet, called Kegs and Eggs, starting at 9 a.m.

For details about registration, visit emmettsbrewingco.com.

The party won't end on March 10. On Saturday, March 17, a fireworks display will be ignited at 7 p.m. on the footbridge over the Fox River, joining the two villages.

Bandito Barney's will pay for the display.

"This party is so fun, we need two weekends to fit everything in," McNamee said. "People need to know that the streets will be closed for the parade at 10:30 a.m."

For more information visit www.dundeestpats.com.

In St. Charles

In St. Charles, the annual parade, also on Saturday, March 10, but at 2 p.m., will march its way along Main Street, past thousands of spectators. Leprechauns, Irish dancers and musicians have entertained generations of families in the southern Kane County city.

The St. Charles parade begins at Main and Sixth streets and continues to Fourth Street.

For details, visit www.downtownstcharles.org/