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Go green: A five senses guide to Tampa Bay St. Patrick's Day parties

The wave of green washing over Tampa Bay places the city firmly in the company of America's metropolis in honoring one of the Emerald Isle's most well-known exports.

WalletHub, a consumer information and research website, named Tampa the nation's sixth best city for celebrating St. Patrick's Day — making it the only Southern city in the top 10.

And why wouldn't it?

There's no Irish population correlation between Tampa Bay's commitment to wearing green and drinking lots, said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who has worked to raise the St. Pat's spirit in his town.

"I guess that's what happens when you elect a mayor who descends from the Emerald Isle," he laughed. "I thought I should spread the green joy."

Each event out of the dozens being promoted promises music, dancing, plenty of drink and corned beef and cabbage. Those are the highlights for sure — but the sheer volume of things to do gives the savvy celebrant more of a holiday experience.

Every sense can be tickled by St. Paddy's Day if you know where to look. Lucky for you, you've got us. Here, a five senses guide to the greenest holiday.

 

SEE

Even as companies cash in on the green scene, the most prominent display on St. Pat's Day is always Irish pride.

"You don't see green beer in Ireland," Buckhorn laughed. "It has become very commercialized here in America.

Community events featuring standards of Irish culture such as step dancing, bagpipers and family togetherness get more to the heart of the holiday in the United States.

Buckhorn's commitment to the annual "greening" of Tampa extends to his own body. He will trot out in his famous green pants (purchased in Savannah, Ga.) to dye the Hillsborough on Saturday at the Mayor's River O'Green Fest in Curtis Hixon Park.

"It's a way to activate downtown and get people out on the Riverwalk," Buckhorn said. "And I'm always envious of Chicago for turning their river green every year, so for me, it's a twofer."

The family-friendly party starts at 10:30 a.m. and will feature Irish entertainment, food, games and a children's area.

Paddyfest at Ferg's Live in Tampa's Channelside is taking on the decidedly modern side of the Irish tradition Thursday night by offering a U2 tribute and a Bono look-alike contest and a giant flip-cup tournament among its entertainment. The party starts at 5 p.m. at 490 Channelside Drive and carries a $15 cover for the 18 and up crowd.

Also SEE:

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, everyone on and off the field at the Philadelphia Phillies vs. Tampa Bay Rays spring training game Thursday will wear green and participate in secret themed activities. $14-$39. Bright House Field, 601 N Old Coachman Road, Clearwater. (727) 467-4457. 1:05 p.m.

 

HEAR

Irish musicians leap across the pond every week to play at Tampa's famed Four Green Fields pub and St. Paddy's Day won't be any different.

Derek Warfield, who helps the bar book its Irish acts, will bring his own traditional music ensemble, Derek Warfield & the Young Wolfe Tones, to close out a full day of music Thursday, said Colin Breen, the bar's owner.

"He's talented and his music is about the history of Ireland," Breen said. "He tells the story of the country and the struggles. So it's not your kids' kind of stuff."

Music will start at 11 a.m. and go until 2 a.m., Breen said, and feature bands Tweed and the Kilmainham Gaels.

This year is also the 100th anniversary of Ireland's Easter Rising, a bloody 1916 revolt against the British crown that the entire country is reflecting on this year.

Breen will do his part to educate residents by bringing in a speaker from Tampa's sister city, South Dublin, Ireland, to shine a light on the uprising at 6 p.m. Monday.

Also HEAR:

Dublin-born singer Brendan Nolan will help the Palm Harbor Library celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a wide variety of songs in a free event at 2 p.m. Saturday. 2330 Nebraska Ave., Palm Harbor.

 

TASTE

Craving some cabbage like dear old Grandma Mary used to make? All the Irish restaurants — plus a few others — are rolling out full St. Paddy's menus to satiate your subtle tastes.

Palm Harbor's Lucky Dill has combined its 25th anniversary celebration with a weeklong St. Patrick's Day blowout featuring 10,000 — you read that right — 10,000 pounds of corned beef. So, it's probably safe to say they've got you covered. And if you want to double up the senses, the restaurant will have parities Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Expect leprechauns, balloon art, fire dancers, Irish step dancers, bagpipes, stilt walkers, hula hoopers, face painting, contests, green beer and live entertainment.

P.J. Dolan's Irish Pub in Tampa is inviting diners to start their St. Paddy's Day with a traditional Irish breakfast chock-full of black and white puddings, rashers bacon, corned beef hash, beans and toast. Doors open at 8 a.m. Thursday at 2836 E Bearss Ave. Live music and drinks continue until 2 a.m. Friday.

Also TASTE:

Clearwater's O'Keefe's Tavern will serve up corned beef and cabbage, green beer, shepherd's pie and Irish drinks from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Thursday.; $5 after 5 p.m.. O'Keefe's Tavern and Grille, 1219 S Fort Harrison Ave. (727) 442-9034.

 

SMELL

An Irish radio host posed the question to his listeners, "What does Ireland smell like?"

The answers — delivered via the Twitter hashtag #irishsmell — ranged from fresh grass to indelicate bodily functions involving beer. A prevailing theme emerged with praise for the scent of hops and a stale Irish pub.

We've got that and then some in Tampa Bay.

Irish bars MacDinton's, Mulligan's and Flanagan's are all having holiday blowouts on the big day, featuring food, music and late hours that will certainly create that special stale smell somewhere during the night.

Dunedin's Cricketers British Pub will host a three-day parking lot party under a tent today through Saturday, and owners expect large crowds to go with the large stage and six bands. 2634 Bayshore Blvd.

Flanagan's Irish Pub in Dunedin will also air it out this year with a party in Pioneer Park heavy on the brew. The 2016 street festival runs from 11 a.m. to midnight Thursday, featuring performances from the city of Dunedin Pipe Band, Lucid Druid, Cage O'Hanlon and more. 465 Main St..

Also SMELL:

Ferg's Live in Tampa will shuttle people from Irish 31 in Hyde Park on the Brew Bus starting at 5 p.m. Thursday, so bar hoppers can safely double dip neighborhoods. Shuttles run every 15 minutes until 1 a.m. Irish 31, 1611 W Swann Ave.(813) 250-0031.

Mulligan's Greenfest kicks off with green beer and Guinness pints at special prices, an Irish buffet, prizes for best costumes, party favors and a kids bounce house. $5 after 4 p.m., 11 and younger free (food/drink extra). Noon-11 p.m. Thursday at Mulligan's Irish Pub at Pebble Creek Golf Club, 10550 Regents Park Drive, Tampa. (813) 973-3870, ext. 225.

 

TOUCH

There aren't many ways to touch the spirit of St. Paddy's Day without ending up in court, so this year, feel the Celtic spirit with your feet via races and barefoot parties.

Nolan's Pub is celebrating Sunday with a run down scenic Bayshore Boulevard that ends back at the bar for a costume contest, beer and live music. Registration starts at $30 and starts at 10 a.m. at 230 Main St. in Safety Harbor. Racers will cool their heels at the bar and get a free beer for their troubles.

If you're looking to inject some Florida into your proceedings, consider chugging your beer with the sand beneath your feet at Tampa's Beach Bar Thursday. The party from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. invites partygoers to wear green bathing suits and feast on $6 Jameson shots as you throw your arm around one of the photo-op leprechauns.

Also TOUCH:

The annual St. Patrick's Day Run on Saturday includes your choice of 10K, 5K or 1-mile fun run/walk with T-shirt, finishers medal and an Irish-themed party with food, beer and live entertainment. $40-$55. Peggy O's Kitchen and Taps, 1026 Florida Ave., Palm Harbor. (727) 226-7223. 4 p.m. Saturday.

 

BONUS

Don't feel like going out? See our companion piece for ways to get in touch with your senses this holiday, from the comfort of home. 

Go green: A five senses guide to Tampa Bay St. Patrick's Day parties 03/15/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 1:32pm]
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