People will be out in force in downtown Bel Air, celebrating St. Patrick's Day Friday and Saturday – some most likely have already started, but the police will be out in force, too, making sure everyone celebrates in a safe manner.
"We step it up a couple notches to make sure there are enough police out there," Bel Air Police Chief Charles Moore said Thursday.
Police officials meet with the town's tavern owners quarterly to prepare for large public events such as St. Patrick's Day for "collective brainstorms" on ways to improve public safety.
Establishments in Bel Air, as well as in Aberdeen and Havre de Grace, will offer multiple drink specials and entertainment for the holiday on Friday as well as during the weekend.
Bel Air bars/restaurants 510 Johnnys and Looney's Pub, which will host live bands for outdoor celebrations, have even filed safety plans with the police department and town administration.
"We consider it the biggest celebration in Maryland for St. Patrick's Day," Cheyanne Barker, a general manger for Looney's, said Thursday of her establishment's offerings.
Looney's opens at 8 a.m. Friday — a free breakfast buffet will be available from 8 to 10 a.m. — and then opens at 10 a.m. Saturday, according to Barker.
"We'll have live bands, pit beef, drink specials, giveaways and promotions all day Friday and Saturday," Barker said.
510 Johnnys starts its St. Patty's Weekend Bash with a kickoff party scheduled for Thursday night, and there will be live music on the inside and outside stages Friday, Saturday and Sunday, according to the 510 Johnnys Facebook page.
"Last year we went very smooth, so I'm hoping for that [again] this year," Moore said.
He said the Bel Air Police Department will have support from the Maryland State Police and the Harford County Sheriff's Office.
About 15 to 20 officers are scheduled to be on hand, making sure pedestrians are safe downtown while moving from bar to bar, looking for intoxicated drivers and keeping an eye on celebrations at the various taverns.
"We stay in the outside [edge], and if something happens we have contact with staff of the establishment," he said, noting officers can move in and "take the appropriate enforcement action" if needed.
Officers will walk through the celebrations periodically, but they mostly stay on the perimeter, keeping an eye on things, Moore said.
"We'll be out in force," the chief said.
Establishments elsewhere in Harford County are hosting St. Patrick's Day celebrations Friday and during the weekend.
Coakley's Pub in downtown Havre de Grace, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, will offer traditional Irish food and drink specials Friday and Saturday, according to Coakley's Facebook page.
The Greene Turtle of Aberdeen will provide entertainment from a DJ at noon Friday and live music from 7 to 11 p.m. that night. Drink specials will be available throughout the day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, according to the restaurant's Facebook page.
Lou Reichart, the inspector for the Harford County Liquor Control Board, has been traveling around the county to coordinate with establishments as they prepare for the holiday.
He has been working with servers and security staff, showing them the latest in fake identification cards and ensuring they can tell when a person has consumed too much alcohol.
“They have the right to refuse to serve anyone,” Reichart said.
A group of establishments in Harford, including Looney’s, 510 Johnnys, the Greene Turtle in Aberdeen and the Towne Grill & Pub in Joppatowne have been approved for outdoor service of alcohol, and Reichart must ensure they are prepared to handle crowd control and anyone who over-consumes.
He said the operators of those establishments have been cooperative and made sure they have extra security staff on hand for those needs.
“They’ve jumped right in and told me what they're doing,” Reichart said.