Fake St. Paddy’s Day, the other Irish holiday


Vohn Murphy outside of Water Street Tavern in downtown Kent on St. Patricks day, March 17, 2015.

Mark Oprea

Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Aren’t they?

On Tuesday, Kent hosted its downtown St. Paddy’s Day celebration, preceded by the Fake Paddy’s Day imitation the Saturday before. With shamrock decor and Irish Car Bombs served on special, the only difference between the two celebrations seemed to be the date.

Still, the real St. Patrick’s day, as most of us know, stems from the tale of the Irish saint, who, as the story goes, in the 5th Century was taken into captivity as a 16-year-old Romano-Brit to Gaelic Ireland, where he eventually became a priest and converted thousands to Christianity. The day the saint died? March 17th.

But the celebration has been taken far from its religious and nationalistic roots, and of course, even split into two separate celebrations — Fake Paddy’s Day doomed to March 17th’s shadow. What started out first as a Kansas State University tradition to satisfy spring breakers is now proudly supported by Downtown Kent.

And on Saturday, the Kent bars were packed with locals wearing lime-green afro wigs, others in Troll-doll hair or a buckled, brimmed cap. They drank, and they drank everything from the Zephyr’s Shamrock Shake — Bailey’s and creme de menthe — to the Secret Cellar’s “Leprechaun Piss,” a $3 “jungle juice” concoction served out of a trash can. And, as if begging the question, there was Guinness running on special all across town.

At the Loft, where shamrock necklaces were wrapped both around beer taps and girls’ necks, the party was just as fair. A male-backed chant of “Here we go, Paddy’s! Here we go!” (Or maybe someone named Pat?) came from a table nearby. Other booths sported girls with hair dyed green for the occasion, matching the drinks in their hands.

Brandon Hoy, a junior flight technology major, stood in a forest-green blazer, with a similarly colored felt beret covering his orange hair. Even on such a holiday, Hoy knows he stands out. And all for a reason.

“People have been buying me drinks all night because they think I’m Irish — I’m not kidding you,” he said, a great smirk on his face. “But I’m actually 50 percent Italian, the rest German and Polish.”

Others opted for different profits.

In front of The Water Street Tavern — rather than in it — stood Olivia Englehart, Kent Girl Scouts service unit coordinator, along with two of her cookie-touting middle-schoolers. It turns out, according to one of the Girl Scouts, a Kent Paddy’s Day celebration is a more-than-ripe business opportunity.

“It’s been great to sell to drunk people,” said Cassidy (who asked for her last name to be withheld), a student at Stanton Middle School. “We’ve had plenty of people banging on the windows, asking, ‘Are those Girl Scout cookies?’”

And what about their leader’s holiday heritage?

“I’m a little bit Irish,” Englehart said. “I’m not exactly sure how much.”

And at the Secret Cellar, as couples with mint-green martinis listened to acoustic duo Tucker & Davis play “All Shook Up,” Fake St. Paddy’s Day began to come to a close. Bartender Stefanie Wise, who was wearing a black, buckled Irish hat, said that she usually sees good business, on both “St. Paddy’s Days.” When asked about whether being from Green, Ohio made her Irish or not, she stood back in a kind of disbelief.

“Isn’t everyone Irish on St. Patrick’s Day?” she said.

Contact Mark Oprea at [email protected].