If you were wearing green-filtering glasses in San Luis Obispo on March 17, you'd have seen large numbers of preternaturally happy people wandering the streets in party attire and beads, working their way from bar to bar, getting progressively happier throughout the day.
And if you kept watching that night, you'd have seen lots of those people get arrested for offenses ranging from public intoxication to DUI, from a city police force that had been beefed-up with Sheriff's deputies for the event.
In other words, you'd have seen a scene much like what you might have seen on a Mardi Gras of the past, before things turned sour. Except, of course, everyone was wearing green.
So, is St. Patrick's Day now on par with, or even becoming, the new Mardi Gras in SLO? Consider the statistics:
For St. Patrick's Day, San Luis Obispo police said they arrested 29 people between 6 a.m. Saturday by which time McCarthy's already had a huge line and 3 a.m. Sunday. In all, 25 were arrested for public intoxication, two were arrested for DUIs, one for vandalism, and one for assault. Police said they also responded to 28 noise complaints, but said there were no major disturbances.
This year's Mardi Gras saw 31 arrests, down from 36 in 2006, 82 in 2005, and 206 in 2004.