Shamrockin’ Around

Above: Drum Corporal Will Ingraham, Drum Sergeant Anthony Green, and Alpharetta’s own, Ashley Frost, of North Georgia Pipes & Drums. Photo: Raftermen Photography

By Tara Gary

I view it as an excuse to wear green, drink beer, and pinch people who forgot to wear green. Wherever did I get the notion to do these things on the 17th of March each year? I’m sure if I took a random poll of St. Patrick’s Day patrons, the majority of individuals wouldn’t know why they are gallivanting through Irish pubs wearing t-shirts that say “Kiss Me I’m Irish.” I decided to do a little research to figure out how it all began and here’s what I found, while shamrockin’ around.

  • St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish, it is believed he was born circa 386 in Roman Britain, an area that included England and Wales.
  • Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.
  • Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day as a secular holiday was an American tradition before it spread to Ireland.
  • Historically, Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol were lifted for the day. (You may want to check with your parish priest:))
  • 13 million—the number of estimated pints of Guinness to be consumed on St. Patrick’s Day.
  • 45 pounds of environmentally-friendly powder are used to turn the Chicago River green. Savannah tried it too, back in 1961, but the tide dissipated it too quickly to be worthwhile. Now they dye the water in their famous fountains instead.

So, how should you spend your time on St. Patrick’s Day if you’re not planning to travel to celebrate near any green rivers or fountains? How about Shamrockin’ around ATL to some of the many local celebrations!

Luck of Avalon brings out the Irish in everyone. Photo: Raftermen Photography

It’s never too early to start celebrating St. Patrick’s Day especially since the day of green falls on a Sunday this year. Start the weekend Friday, March 15 at the 5th Annual Luck of Avalon celebration. The King O’Sullivan School of Irish Dance kicks off the festivities at 5:30 p.m., followed by a proper bagpipe and drum introduction performed by the North Georgia Pipes and Drums, who will continue to parade through the streets of Avalon while the plaza transforms into a dance floor. Enjoy the live music, dancing, Irish flair, and green beer during this family-friendly event.

If you’re planning on heading downtown for the festivities, start with the Green Mile Block Party in Midtown. I suggest taking Marta since it starts at 7:00 p.m., and 2,000 party-goers are expected to attend. That’s a ton of green! There are 20+ establishments involved so there will be plenty of food and beverages for everyone to overindulge in and kick-off the holiday weekend.

The Seed & Feed Marching Abominable has been wowing spectators in parades, concerts, and festivals since 1974. The band supports events and fundraisers of all kinds.
Photo: Alan Sandercock/Creative Commons

Wake up Saturday morning and run or walk those calories off at The Junior League of Atlanta Shamrock ‘N Roll Road Race in Atlantic Station. The 5K and 10K are AJC Peachtree Road Race qualifiers. You can bring the kids, strollers are welcome, and furry friends can participate as well. After the run, cross over the 17th Street Bridge to see one of the South’s biggest and oldest celebrations of its kind, the Atlanta St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Midtown. The family-friendly parade features more than 2,000 Irish dancers, musicians, balloons, floats, local and Irish dignitaries, the Clydesdales, and the world’s largest Irish walking flag. What’s not to love about the world’s largest flag?!

The Irish Lights Party is just down the road at Park Tavern in Piedmont Park. It’s an all-day festival featuring the band Lost Kings with several different areas of entertainment. It’s an adults only party so leave the little leprechauns with a sitter.

Not done yet? Take a breath, refuel, and head on over to paint The Battery green at Live! at the Battery Atlanta. The St. Patrick’s Day Live! Takeover features live bands all afternoon, Irish cocktails, green beer, and plenty of games. If you’re looking to stay further north of town, head over to the Suwanee American Craft Beer Fest from 1:00 p.m. –  5:00 p.m. happening in Town Center Park. Unlimited tastings of over 350 beers! There’s even a home brew contest for those of you brew enthusiasts.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I will be attending Mac McGee’s MacFestivus March 16 in the heart of Historic Roswell. When this section of Canton Street shuts down you can let your inner leprechaun shine. Proceeds benefit Roswell’s The Cottage School, which is a great reason, as if you need one, to have a convivial experience while giving back to the community. This is another family-friendly event with live music beginning at 1:00 p.m., Irish dancers, balloon artists, and all the fun you can macmuster.

Early risers, if you’re up or rather down for a Pub Crawl Brunch Party, head to Virginia Highland for Kegs and Eggs March 17. If you don’t know by now you will… Virginia Highland has some of best brunch spots in Atlanta. Participating bars and restaurants are Limerick Junction, Diesel, Bar-Bacoa, Tiki Iniki, George’s, Moe’s & Joe’s, Fontaine’s, Dark Horse Tavern, Neighbor’s Pub, and The Warren City Club.

There is no excuse for being unable to find something to do the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day. It would be impossible to list the endless number of events surrounding the Metro area. I did a quick search for “Irish pubs near me” that resulted in a flood of options including: Mac McGee Irish Pub, Harp Irish Pub, Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub, Keegan’s Public House, Royal Oak Pub, Meehan’s Public House, Johnnie MacCracken’s, Tilted Kilt, Fado Irish Pub, and Ri Ra Irish Pub which are all located in various areas within reach. You know each of these establishments will have numerous festivities. I know Keegan’s will be hosting live music Friday and Saturday night and all-day Sunday.

So, for a Leapin’ Leprechaun, Shamrockin’ good time this St. Patrick’s Day, you need not search for the end of the rainbow when you live around ATL. The pot of gold is right at your feet. ❍

When not writing, Roswell resident Tara Gary is busy making industrial furniture, charcuterie boards, and local art. Most nights she can be found with her friends at local breweries and pubs drinking craft beer.