St. Patrick's Day gets a green Gasparilla twist Saturday at the annual parade by the Teddy Roosevelt lookalikes who run the Rough Riders' St. Patrick's Parade.
Though the actual day of green is Monday, the Ybor City parade is always held on the Saturday closest to March 17. The beer-and-beads bonanza steps off at 8 p.m. for a two-hour run down Seventh Avenue, 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.
Still, there will be after-parties. The co-sponsors are Jack Daniel's and Sailor Jerry rum, so imbibing will be going on.
Though the parade is green, the mood is black for the Rough Riders, who have lost three prominent members since last year's parade.
Incoming president Richard Pazos died in a traffic crash this month. WFLA-Ch. 8 meteorologist John Winter died in April. Longtime member Don Thornhill, who was the face of the Gasparilla parade organization, also died last spring.
"In general, the whole club is sad," said Mike Thompson, St. Patrick's parade organizer. "They all had a mission, and they all will be missed."
Other St. Patrick's Day events
1219 S Fort Harrison Ave., Clearwater;
This is always one of the biggest parties on Ireland's big day, and it starts at 4 p.m. Saturday and runs through Monday. A ton — that's 2,000 pounds — of corned beef has been ordered, and thousands of gallons of green beer will be on hand for a crowd that spills outside to a blocklong party zone under a tent with Irish music, Dunedin's famous bag pipers and dancing all three days.
Four Green Fields
205 Platt St., Tampa; (813) 254-4444.
The authentic thatched-roof Irish pub will serve a lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday and have food for sale outside all day. Later, Irish singer Pat Dunlea will take the stage with Boston's AcoustiCeol backing him up. There's a $10 cover.
2800 Alt. U.S. 19 N, Palm Harbor;
The popular New York-style deli will rock all weekend and Monday under a big top with Irish music and 2,000 pounds of corned beef coming out of the kitchen. There will be no cover, and menu selections will be less than $10.
Fitzgerald's Irish Tavern
5811 Nebraska Ave., New Port Richey;
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 will await a party with bagpipes from lunch until closing at 2 a.m., with lots of dining and dancing.
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 will have an Irish theme this weekend. A Celtic village will feature wares of local Irish and Scottish clans, including jewelry, kilts and heritage lessons. Green beer will be poured all day, and beer sampling will be provided by Budweiser. Wearing green will get you $2 off admission. 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, $13.95 seniors, $8.95 kids 6 to 12. Toll-free 1-800-779-4910, (813) 983-0111; www.renaissancefest.com.
Dinner and Concert
The Emerald String Quartet fiddlers plays favorite Irish tunes at 7 p.m. Friday at the Historic Bok Sanctuary in Lake Wales. Preconcert dinner of beef stew, bacon 'n' cabbage, Irish soda bread and Guinness chocolate pudding begins at 5:45. Concert admission is $20 ($15 members), $25 extra for dinner. Space limited, so call (863) 734-1221 for reservations. www.boksanctuary.org.
This family run Friday night will have a postrace party with live music by Juniper. Clover Kids Fun Run starts at 6:30 p.m., 5K at 7, 1.5-mile walk at 7:15. Presented by West Florida "Y" Runners Club. Ulmer Park, 301 West Bay Drive, Largo. $18 for 5K, $10 1.5-mile, $7 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 event at 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Monday. The island will "turn green" with live music featuring Seven Nations, 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, and award-winning Irish dancer Danielle Fitzpatrick. Festivities kick off at 11 a.m. Sunday and end at 2 a.m. Tuesday. $15 cover charge Monday.
Sharon Kennedy Wynne can be reached at [email protected]