Charm City puts on the green

The Baltimore Sun

Do you have the recession blues? Try going green for the weekend. St. Patrick's Day green. A host of local venues and groups are holding events from parades to races to other forms of merrymaking.

The biggest event of the season is the Baltimore St. Patrick's Day Parade. In its 53rd year, it starts at the Washington Monument on Charles Street at 2 p.m. Sunday.

"Few know that Baltimore was the second-largest port of entry for Irish immigration - second only to New York," said Chris Gummer, who plays in the Fire Brigade Pipes and Drums of Greater Baltimore and has marched in the parade for 12 years. "This year's parade should be fantastic with over 100 groups marching. The parade represents the diversity of Baltimore's Irish community and has come to represent the diversity of Baltimore through the participation of non-Irish organizations."

Gummer said popular attractions are the pipe and drum bands in their colorful tartans, including his band, as well as Chesapeake Caledonian and Na Fianna Irish pipe bands.

There will also be other bands, including the Baltimore Ravens marching band, Calvert Hall College marching band, Westminster Municipal marching band and Penn Manor. He said the parade has attracted 100,000 spectators in past years.

Many of those spectators come out early to watch the Shamrock 5K, a running race immediately preceding the parade. There will be 4,000 runners this year, many dressed in green race shirts or kilts or both. The popular race sold out weeks ago, but spectators can get a view of the moving green mass on Charles and Pratt streets.

"It should be quite a sight," said Kelly Dees, director of events for Charm City Run. "It's a popular race because it doesn't start until 1:15 in the afternoon. It's not often you get to run down the middle of Charles Street, and it's all downhill."

Dees notes that this is a family-friendly event with runners of all ages. There is also an after-party at Power Plant Live in the Inner Harbor.

For those who don't make it downtown for the race or the parade, many restaurants and bars - Irish and not - are holding related events throughout the weekend and next week. And other venues are hosting activities, too. Here are some details:

* 53rd annual St. Patrick's Day Parade: This parade, at 2 p.m. Sunday, starts at the Washington Monument, runs south on Charles Street and east on Pratt Street to President Street. Go to

* O'Malley's March St. Patty's Party: The event is at the Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $25. Gov. Martin O'Malley and the rest of O'Malley's March celebrate a CD release. The band's fifth CD is tentatively titled Galway Races. Call 410-276-1651 or go to

* Shamrock 5K: The race, at 1:15 p.m. Sunday, starts north of Franklin Street on Charles Street. It's sold out, but spectators are encouraged to go and cheer for their favorite runner in green. There's an after-party at Power Plant Live in the Inner Harbor with rock band Burnt Sienna performing on the plaza.

* Federal Hill Irish Stroll: The event begins outside Cross Street Market in Federal Hill, 1065 S. Charles St., and runs noon-9 p.m. Saturday. For the 11th year, area bars and restaurants will offer food and drink specials. Tickets are $10, or $15 with a shirt. Go to

* Celtic Woman: The group has hopped across the pond to deliver its New Age-y Celtic neo-folk music at the Hippodrome Theatre at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center, 12 N. Eutaw St., on Tuesday and Wednesday. Call 410-837-7400 or go to

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