My grandparents are from Ireland and Scotland, and having been born, educated, and working in Chicago for more than 40 years, I’ve been around St. Patrick’s Day celebrations for decades. I was also part of a team that televised about a half dozen ethnic parades each year in that city—including the St. Pat’s parade. So I saw how different ethnicities celebrated their heritage.
St. Patrick’s Day was a fun, family-oriented affair for decades. Then it started to turn sour 20 to 25 years ago. It began to be a “ticket” to drinking, more drinking, and eventually throwing up on the streets and sidewalks. It was no longer fun; it was sad, and you wanted to keep your family away from that scene.
I built a home in SLO years ago, and recently my family and I moved here full time. Yesterday, after I dropped off my son at school, I was coming down Higuera Street at about 8 a.m., and that sadness that evolved in Chicago came over me again. It’s happening here, too.
Predominantly younger people—wearing their “green” permission tickets—raised a ruckus and raised glass after glass to each other—not in celebration of Ireland’s patron saint, but as an opportunity to drink early and often here in SLO.
Clearly, having a drink as part of a celebration is fine. Yet when the spirit of the celebration is the “spirit” itself, someone’s lost the true intention of the day.
-- Tim Bennett - San Luis Obispo