The public celebration of St. Patrick's Day seems to get bigger every year, with Harford County celebrants both Irish and non coming out in droves to drink, dance or just partake in Gaelic-themed food.
While the holiday was once limited to specifically Irish sites, today many other bars, restaurants and other venues are taking advantage of the St. Patrick's Day tie-in to boost business.
Places like Venetian Palace, a Greek-themed restaurant off Route 40 in Edgewood, are advertising the holiday and serving up St. Patrick's Day-esque dishes.
The Edgewood restaurant will have specials like corned beef and cabbage and ham and cabbage, as well as $1.49 draft beers, from today (Friday) through Monday.
The business is also looking "pretty green," owner "V" Hapsis said.
While Irish musical groups have been known to stop by the county, now even tourist attractions and educational facilities try to get in on the St. Patrick's Day action.
The Anita C. Leight Estuary Center is promoting a "To Catch a Leprechaun" program Saturday, in which attendees can create their own gardens to, perhaps, lure in the mythical creatures.
The program will run from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Abingdon facility.
The Steppingstone Farm Museum near Havre de Grace is adding a Celtic Traditions tea to its series of Sunday afternoon teas, held at the Quaker Bottom Road institution for the past year.
"This is our first St. Patrick's Day," volunteer Maryellen Kosydar said Wednesday. "This is our first alternative for women who want to celebrate the holiday and their Irish heritage but don't want to do the bar scene."
St. Patrick's Day in the U.S. is not about being Irish, "it's about drunkenness," Kosydar noted.
For persecuted Irish immigrants, "this was a way to celebrate their heritage and be proud of being in this country," she said. "I don't think they would be pleased with what they [celebrants] do now."
The Celtic Traditions tea will be held at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday. It will feature re-enactor Alisa Dupuy speaking about traditions of Ireland.
For those who do prefer a more party-like atmosphere for St. Patrick's Day, bars and restaurants in Bel Air, Havre de Grace and Aberdeen are preparing to welcome them.
Several businesses also are attempting to make St. Patrick's Day, falling on a Monday this year, into a four-day weekend.
Looney's Pub and MaGerk's in Bel Air are both having multi-day celebrations.
Looney's, which began setting up two large tents on its parking lot this week, is trying to one-up itself by offering a five-day event, "Maryland's largest St. Patrick's Day."
Looney's seems to be the only area bar to promote a post-St. Patrick's Day event, with "Dude, Where's My Car Tuesday?" on March 18.
The day-after will feature $2 Irish coffees, Irish Crushes and Bloody Marys from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
As always, Looney's will have pit beef, Irish food, giveaways, live music and food and drink specials every day from today (Friday) to Tuesday.
Four bands will perform in the tents, and three inside the restaurant, throughout the day Saturday.
Two bands are playing Sunday, when the pub is also advertising no cover charge all day.
Looney's will open at 8 a.m. Monday with a complimentary breakfast buffet and happy hour drinks.
Three bands will perform in the restaurant and two in the outdoor tents through the afternoon.
Yes, Irish egg rolls
From Saturday through Monday at MaGerk's, customers will be treated to creative Irish specials like Irish egg rolls, a twist on the pub's cheesesteak egg rolls that include corned beef, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes in an egg roll.
MaGerk's will have specials today through Monday, with an extended happy hour at the bar until 9 p.m. Friday.
A band and DJ will perform Saturday night, while Monday will feature three bands.
The pub is again selling a $10 St. Patrick's Day commemorative T-shirt, which customers can purchase in lieu of a cover charge all weekend.
"St. Patrick's Day is one of the biggest weekends of the year," said Jennifer Topper, MaGerk's event sales and marketing coordinator, noting the entire staff will be on hand for the whole weekend and Monday.
"We step up 100 percent for a reason. It's just packed all weekend," Topper said. "We pretty much flow all weekend."
Sean Bolan's on Main Street in Bel Air will feature a bagpiper Monday afternoon, on top of some food specials and drink specials like Irish coffees starting Saturday and Sunday.
The Irish pub will have breakfast starting at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
On St. Patrick's Day, Sean Bolan's will have an acoustic set by Ken Gutberlet, a four-item Irish breakfast menu and a beer garden on part of it back parking lot.
"I have heard people saying they just take of work for it," bartender Michelle Simms said about the holiday falling on a weekday.
"It is our biggest weekend," she noted. "I think the weather will bring people out, too."
'People absolutely take off work'
MacGregor's in Havre de Grace – technically a Scottish restaurant – will have a four-day celebration with music, drink specials, giveaways and other promotions from today (Friday) to Monday, assistant general manager Stephanie Giordano said.
"It's a big production," Giordano, who has worked there for 13 years, said. "We have not done an entire weekend like this."
Last year was the restaurant's biggest turnout ever for the holiday,
"People will come in as early as 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. People absolutely take off work; it's a tradition," Giordano said enthusiastically. "By 12 [noon] we are really packed."
The restaurant plans to offer a closed, heated deck with its own bar for the holiday this year. It was not fully finished last year.
MacGregor's will feature live music by Andy Bopp and Wes Cohen on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively, and bagpiper Andy Macintyre from 4 to 7 p.m. on Monday. He will be followed by My Boy Blue.
An unlimited champagne brunch will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday and the deck bar will be open Monday from 10 a.m. until close of business.
"St. Patrick's Day for us is a really nice crowd," Giordano said. "We generally get the more mature crowd."
Coakley's Pub, also in downtown Havre de Grace, will have a live Irish band called Kaydence on St. Patrick's Day itself from 6 to 9 p.m. A bagpiper will join in that afternoon.
The day will start with "green eggs and kegs" and special breakfast items at 8 a.m.
The restaurant also offers corned beef and cabbage, shepherd pie and other food specials all weekend.
"I expect it to be just the same [as previous years]. A lot of times we get a lot more carry-out [food]," owner Margie Coakley said. "I expect it to be pretty big."
"We tend to get an older crowd, a lot of families. A lot of people are walking distance, so that is a benefit to us," Coakley said about the holiday turnout.
Four days in Aberdeen
The Greene Turtle in Aberdeen also has a four-day celebration, with drink specials and DJs starting today, when the restaurant opens at 11 a.m.
On Monday, the restaurant opens at 8 a.m. and DJ Russ will perform from noon to 5 p.m.
The patio will be open as well, marketing director Danyelle Filiaggi said.
Liquor inspectors will check Harford's bars each day between today and Monday to make sure they are complying with security set-ups, liquor board inspector Charlie Robbins said.
He was not concerned about any incidents, noting the bars and restaurants have had plenty of time to prepare for St. Patrick's Day.
"All the bars, they do pretty good," Robbins said.