What's it take to pull off a celebration of legendary proportions? Well, whipping up 2 tons of corned beef and cabbage is a feat in itself, not to mention 500 pounds of stew, 900 pounds of hamburger meat and 30 cases of bratwurst.
"It takes us two weeks to prepare enough to last us two days," says chef Mike Lane of O'Keefe's Family Tavern and Grille. He's been working 13-hour days with a sous-chef and a crew of four guys. Six more cooks were hired just to prepare for the bash.
One thing they don't have to worry about is making green beer.
"It comes right out of the keg that way," said Lane, who's been at O'Keefe's since 1978. "We do 100 to 150 kegs of just green beer."
Years back, the St. Patrick's Day celebration was a lot smaller. The party was inside the tavern, and one of its highlights was a greased-pig-catching contest. Today, it's grown into a huge outdoor tent party that draws thousands.
Whether you're looking for a legendary St. Patrick's Day bash such as the one at O'Keefe's or a family-friendly festival, there are plenty of events to choose from today:
Dunedin St. Patrick's Day Street Festival: Flanagan's takes its annual party to the street with children's activities, music by numerous area bands, a performance by the Dunedin Pipe Band, Irish step dancers, the Irish Buskers band, traditional Irish food and the Fightin' Malones. Free. Flanagan's Irish Pub, 465 Main St., Dunedin. (727) 736-4994. 11 a.m.–11 p.m.
Largo St. Patrick's Day Street Party: Hit the streets with live music, street performers, fiddlers, Irish dancers, arts and craft vendors, 40 craft beers and green beer by O'Shy's Tap House, plus corned beef and cabbage by the Deli Diva at Largo's First Friday festival location at Clearwater-Largo Road S and First Avenue SW, Largo. (727) 517-6821. 11 a.m.–11 p.m.
Lucky Dill Extravaganza: This multiday party features 10,000 pounds of corned beef and cabbage, as well as live music, stilt walkers, fire dancers, bagpipers, face painting, green beer and Irish-themed cocktails. They're offering free soda bread and green cheesecake with a purchase. No cover. Lucky Dill Deli, 33180 U.S. 19 N, Palm Harbor. (727) 789-5574. 11 a.m. today, noon Sunday.
Mulligan's St. Patrick's Day Bash: The putting greens at two golf courses set the backdrop for this St. Patrick's Day celebration, with an Irish buffet, live music, green beer and beer specials, and family-friendly activities. The party spreads from the pub to the banquet room, the veranda and the courtyard. $4 after 4 p.m., children free (Pebble Creek); $3 after 5 p.m., children free (Wentworth). Mulligan's Irish Pub at Pebble Creek Golf Club, 10550 Regents Park Drive, Tampa. (813) 973-3870. And Mulligan's Irish Pub at Wentworth Golf Club, 2990 Wentworth Way, Tarpon Springs. (727) 942-4760. Both start at 9 a.m.
O'Keefe's St. Patrick's Weekend Party: O'Keefe's annual tent party features 2 tons of corned beef and cabbage, green beer, Irish drinks, dancers, drummers, bagpipers, a "teeny weeny green bikini" contest, a face painter, rock climbing, and live entertainment and music by the Irish Buskers, Empty Hats and Stormbringer (Saturday.). Look for the 10,000-square-foot tent. $5-$10 (Saturday). Food and drink at additional cost. O'Keefe's Family Tavern and Grille, 1219 S Fort Harrison Ave., Clearwater. (727) 442-9034. Starts at 11 a.m.
Peggy O'Neill's Day Backyard Bash: This event features food, drink specials, Irish dancers, pipe bands and other live music all day in the 25,000-square-foot back yard. No cover. Peggy O'Neill's Irish Pub, 1026 Florida Ave., Palm Harbor. (727) 787-7734. 11 a.m.
25 Things You Didn't Know About Ireland and St. Patrick: Join Irish writer Ann O'Farrell, author of Norah's Children and Michael, for humorous tales of her homeland and St. Patrick. Free. Safety Harbor Library, 101 Second St. N, Safety Harbor. (727) 724-1525, ext. 112. 1 p.m.