In places like New York City or Savannah, Ga., annual parades down cordoned-off streets highlight the March 17 festivities. But in most places, including Nevada, the luck of the Irish is seen only in pubs and bars offering discounted food and drinks.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
A closer look, however, does reveal a stronger connection to Celtic lore right here in Sparks.
Around the time of this country’s bicentennial, a federal push to connect every municipality nationwide with a European “sister city” was started.
By the end of 1976, Sparks had linked up with Longford, Ireland, a town of about 20,000 residents located on the banks of the River Camlin in the central part of the country. It is a sawmills hub and steel town with roots dating as far back as the 14th century.
Nuns from that town came to Ely in the early 1900s and later settled in Reno, and many city residents are known to have family ties to the Irish countryside, Sparks officials said, thus explaining the kinship between Sparks and Longford.
Since its adoption as a sister city, a delegation from Longford has visited Sparks and a park located at the intersection of North McCarran Boulevard and Baring Boulevard was named in honor of the Irish town.
In recent years, Mayor Geno Martini, council members Ron Schmitt and Mike Carrigan, and city managers Shaun Carey and Stephen Driscoll have all visited Longford in both official and unofficial capacities.
Moreover, band members from Sparks, Reed and Spanish Springs high schools played at a music festival in Ireland last summer and visited the sister city.
This history, it would seem, adds a little credibility to local St. Patty’s Day celebrations.
At any rate, revelers are likely to show up en masse at Paddy & Irene’s and O’skis, two Irish-themed pubs located in Victorian Square.
“It’s our day,” said Irene Adams, co-owner of Paddy & Irene’s with her husband, Paddy, who hails from Dublin.
Of course, “Everyone’s Irish on St. Patty’s Day,” Irene said, quoting the oft-used phrase.
For patrons, that means late hours, Irish coffee and free corned beef sandwiches with the purchase of a drink.
At O’skis, patrons will see more decorations than normal and the staff will be dressed in handmade kilts.
Live Irish music, prize giveaways, food and drink specials and late hours promise a good time.
“This is the place to be,” said co-owner Cindy Pisiewski.
Pisiewski said she hoped patrons would bounce around between other restaurants and bars in Victorian Square, an attitude that reflects the camaraderie between local owners developed in recent months and manifested in an initiative to work together to re-energize business in the area.
Though St. Patty’s Day signifies an excuse to party for most people, bar owners and local officials stressed the need to celebrate responsibly.
Sparks Police officials said no special enforcements would commence today but that patrol officers would be on the look-out for impaired driving.
Reno Police officials, meanwhile, said in a statement they would step up patrols in search of drunk drivers “on a night well known for celebrating with alcohol,” and would do so with funding from the Northern Nevada DUI Task Force.
The task force is sponsoring the Regional Transportation Commission’s Free Ride campaign, which will give passengers free bus rides from 6 p.m. to midnight today to help reduce alcohol-related traffic fatalities and injuries.
The only road closure within the city of Reno for St. Patrick Day festivities is Vesta Street between Wells Avenue and Visalia Street. The closure will occur from 5 to 11 p.m. in order to allow part-goers on opportunity to “pub crawl” between Irish bars and restaurants in the area.
A total of 11 DUIs were reported in Washoe County last St. Patty’s Day, according to data from the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. Public safety officials want that number reduced in 2011.
“We just hope people are responsible, not only to save them from getting booked but to save lives,” sheriff’s spokesperson Deputy Armando Avina said.