John Saunders, President and CEO of FleishmanHillard, will act as Grand Marshal of the St. Louis, Mo., St. Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday.

This is the first of the big annual St. Patrick’s Day Parades to get underway in the United States. Guests of honor will be Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Dubliner John Saunders, President and CEO of FleishmanHillard as Grand Marshall.

It will be the 48th St. Louis St. Patrick’s Day Parade and a crowd of 350,000 spectators are expected to attend. This year the parade will feature more than 130 floats and bands and more than 5,000 marchers.

A native of Dublin, Saunders now lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He was appointed President and CEO of St. Louis headquartered FleishmanHillard in November 2015.

Speaking this week Saunders said, “I am truly honored. St.Louis is my new home and I am proud to be Grand Marshall and fly the Irish flag here on this special day. I want to thank Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor for coming to St. Louis and further strengthening the links between the Mid-West and Ireland”.

The 48th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will kick off at 12:00 pm in downtown St. Louis. Regularly noted as one of the top in the country, the parade will be comprised of over 120 units, including marching bands, floats, huge cartoon-character balloons, 5000+ marchers, and lots of clowns. Over 250,000 spectators, the largest of any event in downtown St. Louis, are expected to attend, packing the streets with smiling Irish eyes and festive green attire.