Bel Air bar-crawlers paint the town green for St. Patrick's Day weekend

It was a weekend full of green and Guinness in Bel Air, as revelers kept the bars hopping Friday through Sunday, not waiting for the real St. Patrick's Day on March 17.

Security and police were also busy on one of the biggest drinking days of the year, though no one from Bel Air Police was immediately available Sunday to talk about issues from the night before.

The new Looney's Pub set-up of two tents, both with live music, was jam-packed early Saturday night. One security guard warned about "a lot of drunk people," but the crowd seemed to be flowing smoothly and no problems were immediately visible.

Adriane Kleinman, of Looney's, said the weekend went smoothly, as did manager Bill Larney.

"Considering we had a line both days all day, I think everything went very smoothly," Larney said via e-mail. "People really took advantage of our shuttle service so they didn't drive home, which is a plus. It was a huge success and I believe people had a wonderful time."

Rachel Norton, who was selling drinks inside one of the tents Saturday, said she had not seen any issues, even though Looney's had a very active weekend.

"It's been really busy. It started out slow," she said, noting the crowd picked up at about 4 p.m.

Norton said she liked the new concept of two heated tents instead of one.

"I think it's a lot better," she said. "There's more bands to play."

Just a block away, The Dark Horse had a tent, too, although the crowd there was fairly low-key until the band stopped playing by 10 p.m. Saturday and a larger group of people moved indoors.

Plenty of green was to be seen all over town, from shamrock Natty Boh T-shirts to green beads and sparkly headbands – as well as shirts announcing more blunt thoughts, of course, like "I'm Drunk."

Patrick Leonard, manager of "all the Dark Horses," said the night had been going well, although he expected even more people Sunday.

"It's been steady all day," Leonard, who was sporting one sparkly shamrock earring, said. "It's been a nice day."

The revelers who were busy drinking, dancing or just people-watching had a couple of different reasons for being excited about St. Patrick's Day.

"I'm Irish," Jessica Schisler, of Bel Air, explained. "Gotta exercise your Irish pride."

She was out at The Dark Horse with Tony Raimondi, also of Bel Air, and both were sharply dressed in black suits with green accessories.

Raimondi agreed, saying he was also Irish.

Another reason to enjoy St. Patrick's Day? "I love drinking," he said with a laugh.

Nate Shivers, of Abingdon, turned heads when he rolled into The Dark Horse dressed in full leprechaun attire, complete with a tiny pot of "gold."

"I love it," Shivers said of St. Patrick's Day. "It's the one day a year I make sure I have off [work]."

Shivers came with his girlfriend, Liz DeLeonardi, who recently moved to Forest Hill from Carroll County.

She said March 17 is all about being social.

"It's the only holiday when you go out all day to hang out with your friends," DeLeonardi noted. "This is the first time I have gone out in Bel Air."

At MaGerks, over on Bond Street, Jeff Klapka, of Forest Hill, also said the day meant time well spent.

"It's about getting together with friends for a great time," he said.

Ashley Grund, another MaGerks customer and Bel Air resident, was thinking of going to The Tower Sunday morning for breakfast, adding St. Patrick's Day is "just another chance to hang out."

On Saturday night, she was mostly focused on doing the bar crawl.

"That's what Bel Air does," she said. "I like it. It's a lot of fun."

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