Month of the Irish: Milwaukeeans celebrate St. Patrick's Day all March long

One of Milwaukee’s biggest days of the year is quickly approaching.  St. Patrick’s Day is next week, but our city proves it’s no longer just a one-day celebration. 

Irish dancers, a Milwaukee leprechaun, and a contest to see who could eat the most corned beef sandwiches in two minutes were just some of the offerings at Grand Avenue Mall Friday.

“We went from a day, to a week, now we’re going to do a St. Patrick’s Day month,” Mayor Tom Barrett said to the crowd that gathered to watch. “This is a month where everyone is Irish.”

Some of the bigger local St. Patrick’s Day parades are being held Saturday, a full week ahead of the actual holiday. The parade in downtown Milwaukee starts at noon. The parade along Bluemound Road starts at 3:30 p.m.

“We started preparing back in December,” said Justin Wagner, the bar manager of Mo’s Irish Pub in Wauwatosa. “We had to plan our orders. A lot more food, beer and liquor. It’s probably our biggest day of the year. We’re open from 8 a.m. until 2 a.m.”

And Mo’s Irish Pub, like many bars, has made it a month-long party.

“We had a party back on Feb. 17th to kick-off a month until St Patrick’s Day,” Wagner said. “We like to celebrate from about mid-February through March 18. It’s obviously a boom for business, but safety is a priority too.”

This Saturday night, Mo’s is hosting what it calls a “St. Practice Day” bash and is expecting a big crowd. 

“We’re bringing in a live band,” Wagner said. “We’re practicing a week early, just to get everybody involved and excited for next Saturday.”

But that excitement comes with responsibility. Wagner has organized meetings with all bar staff, warning about over-serving customers. At those meetings, they talk about what to say and do when a customer has had too much to drink and is still asking for more.

“It comes down to knowing the signs, monitoring behavior,” Wagner said. “We have extra security. We teach our bartenders to politely say ‘I think you’ve had enough, how about a water? Can I bring you some food or some coffee?’”

Wagner says that bar staff is also ready and willing to help get customers a Taxi, Uber or Lyft.

Because St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, bars are expecting an even bigger crowd, and more drinking. 

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