St. Patrick's Day gets a Gasparilla twist this weekend at the annual parade by the Teddy Roosevelt lookalikes who run the Rough Riders' St. Patrick's Parade.
Though the actual day to wear green is Monday, the Ybor City parade steps off at 8 p.m. Saturday for a two-hour run down Seventh Avenue, complete with 115 floats, marching bands and waving dignitaries, including the biggest Gasparilla krewes throwing green beads and coins.
The crowd gets into the act too, with kids dressed as leprechauns and their grandmothers donning green wigs for what is one of the tamer Ybor City parades. (The after parties are where things really get wild.)
Though the parade is green, the mood is black for the Rough Riders, who lost three prominent members since last year's parade.
Incoming president Richard Pazos died in a traffic crash earlier this month. WFLA-Ch. 8 meteorologist John Winter died in April, and longtime member Don Thornhill, who was the face of the Gasparilla parade organization, died last spring.
"In general, the whole club is sad," said Mike Thompson, the St. Patrick's parade organizer. "They all had a mission and they all will be missed."
Other St. Patrick's Day events
Krewe of Shamrock It's the seventh annual charity fundraiser for the Irish krewe on Monday from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Cuban Club in Ybor City. Last year more than 800 people got their Irish on. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door, with a raffle, open bars and an Irish feast. See www.kreweofshamrock.com for details.
Dubliner Irish Pub 2307 W Azeele St., Tampa; (813) 416-2162. The Dubliner's annual party is a four-day affair starting Friday. A diverse lineup of musical acts includes the traditional Irish band the Ragged Rascals, who will be playing Saturday afternoon following the Guinness breakfast.
O'Keefe's Tavern, 1219 S Fort Harrison Ave., Clearwater; (727) 442-9034. This is always one of the biggest parties on Ireland's big day, and it's starting at 4 p.m. Saturday and running through Monday. An actual ton — that's 2,000 pounds — of corned beef has been ordered up, and thousands of gallons of green beer will be on hand for a crowd that spills outside to a block-long party zone.
Four Green Fields, 205 Platt St., Tampa; (813) 254-4444. The authentic thatched-roof Irish pub will be serving a lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday and will have food for sale outside all day. Later, Irish singer Pat Dunlea takes the stage with Boston's AcoustiCeol backing him up. There's a $10 cover.
Fitzgerald's Irish Tavern, 5811 Nebraska Ave., New Port Richey; (727) 816-9092. Black Irish humor marks this upscale pub's annual celebration, which holds a make-believe Irish wake every year. "Finnegan's Wake" starts at 5 p.m. Sunday. On Monday, a huge tent in the parking lot awaits a party with bagpipes from lunch until closing at 2 a.m.
Ricky T's 10601 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island, and 6100 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach; (727) 360-4575. St. Patrick's Day had been a huge event here, where late owner Rick Taylor would dye his red hair bright green. Though new owners now run the St. Pete Beach location, huge tents will go up again to welcome revelers. The Taylor family-owned Treasure Island location will have live music starting at noon Monday with no cover.
Shamrocks and Kilts The Bay Area Renaissance Festival at MOSI will have an Irish twist this weekend with a Celtic village, featuring the wares of local Irish and Scottish clans including jewelry, kilts and heritage lessons. Green beer will be pouring with samples provided by Budweiser. Wearing green gets you $2 off. It is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on the MOSI grounds, 11315 N 46th St., Tampa. $16.95 adults; $8.95 kids 6-12; seniors $13.95. Toll-free 1-800-779-4910, (813) 983-0111; www.renaissancefest.com.
Bennigan's Blarney Blast 2008 St. Patrick's Day is a pretty hefty production at Bennigan's, with giveaways and green beverages o'plenty. Local alt-rockers Soulfound will perform at the Stadium Bennigan's, 2520 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, and 93.3 FLZ-FM will broadcast live from 5 to 7 p.m. Cover is $5. (813) 872-7566.
Shamrock-n-Run This family run Friday night will have a post-race party with live music by Juniper. The Clover Kids Fun Run starts at 6:30 p.m., the 5K at 7, and the 1.5-mile walk at 7:15. Ulmer Park, 301 West Bay Drive, Largo. It's $18 for the 5K, $10 for the 1.5-mile and $7 for the kids fun run. (727) 939-8038; www.wfyrc.com.
Disney's Pleasure Island The Mouse's house party, Sham-Rock 'n' Roll, features a family friendly Friday, Saturday and Monday with live music, videos by Irish artists, leprechauns and stilt walkers. Club admission is not required. The downtown Disney Irish pub Raglan Road will have U2 Elevation, a popular U2 tribute band on Sunday and Monday. There is a $15 cover charge on Monday. See www.downtowndisney.com.