ST. PAT’S IN FIVE POINTS celebrated its 30th birthday in style. Saturday was St. Patrick’s Day and the weather was perfect. And it didn’t rain, although there was rain in the forecast.
The festival had a record 40,657 paid visitors this year, according to Five Points Association executive director Merritt McHaffie. (The number included 38,207 people who bought tickets to the festival and 2,450 runners who participated in the Get to the Green 5K.) The mark broke the previous record of 39,067 set last year. There more than 30 festival-related arrests.
I went to the festival to observe the crowd. Here are some of the things I noticed.
The Look, part 1: The look of the day was black socks worn with boat shoes or sneakers. It is preferred by khaki short-wearing set. Master’s polos were a hot item, too.
The Look, part 2: Winning looks of the day: his and hers kilts, girls in ties and people who didn’t take off green troll hair handed out at the beginning of Get to the Green.
Cool break: The Five Points bars and restaurants were under strict orders not to exceed the fire code people limit. Hence, the absurd and comically long lines people endured to get into places like Bar None, Sharky’s Bar and 5 Points Pub. I got into Jake’s, without any wait, at around 2 p.m., right about the time I needed a break from the sun. It was relaxing on the back deck, too. And there was a grill flame-cooking burgers. I wished I was hungry.
Sounding off: For a while, it seemed like I couldn’t hear a band play. It was apparent there were some technical issues as I waited for almost 30 minutes to hear Tom Hall and the Plowboys play at Jake’s. Inside 5 Points Pub, I waited for 20 minutes for a band I didn’t recognize to start. I left without hearing either. At least there was air conditioning — and short drink lines.
Line them up: I’ve never seen lines for ID bracelets so long at St. Pat’s before — and so early in the day. Usually, the festival streets become hardest to navigate around 3. But by 1 p.m. I knew there were places — like the intersection of Harden and Greene streets — I’d be avoiding.
2 Hot 2 Cook: Food trucks were new at the festival this year. The guys in the 2 Fat 2 Fly truck were cooking — until they actually started cooking themselves. I was going to introduce an out-of-town friend to the delicious wings when I walked up to the window and Ramone Dickerson, one of the owners, told me they were taking a break because of heat exhaustion. The truck’s temperature had reached 125 degrees, and the cooks were passing out.
What’s up there? The City of Columbia Police Department’s officer perch on Harden Street was something new to look at. The birds eye view was cool to ponder, but I didn’t go as far as the woman who asked if she could go up there.
Marketing plan: I now know there is an apartment complex named University Oaks. I also have the Internet address — www.uoaks.com — memorized. There were a lot of coeds wearing green T-shirts with the apartment’s logo. The T-shirts were handed out at a housing fair on March 14.
Who is it? It’s always fun to play the who-do-you-think-is-an-undercover game. So...does anyone know if the city has an officer who looks like Jason Bateman?
Pit stop: As the Capital City Playboys were loading gear into a truck in the Harper’s Restaurant parking lot, two officers were doing police work. The three dudes that were stopped to talk to the cops used the truck to lean on.
Shady Lane: At an outdoor festival, everybody wants one. Harper’s is still the best place to relax if you want to be away from the festival noise. In the Exxon lot, under the gas pump roof, it was like a mini-party.
Eating in: Andy’s Deli and Pavlov’s, two Greene Street businesses, were inside the festival’s gates for the first time. Since there were no wings, I went there and had a sandwich. It was one of the best decisions of the day and not because of the food, which was tasty and hit the spot, but because the window seats provided a great space for people watching. When we walked out of Andy’s, my friend said, “That’s not good.” We had been talking about headaches, and I thought he was referring to his. Nope, he meant hearing Hinder, the festival’s headliner. The sound made my headache worsen.
ON THE TV: South Carolinians have been appearing on the tube.
Josh Turner, the country music star and Hannah native, might be entertaining a new career. He co-hosted the final hour of NBC’s “Today Show” with Hoda Kotb Monday. It was his second appearance on the show. Turner, who will release his next album, “Punching Bag,” this summer, talked about his new music. His distinctive baritone was even enlisted to interview Bernadette Peters, one of the stars of NBC’s “Smash.” Sumter native Lee Brice, an award-winning country music songwriter and singer, was a guest co-host on the “Today” show Tuesday.
Elise Testone, a singer who has performed with Lexington-based Justin Smith & The Folk Hop Band, is treading the vocal waves on “American Idol.” The Charleston native is going to have to win over voters fast. She was “saved” by the judges two weeks ago, and rebounded last week with a rousing performance of Tina Turner’s version of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” But she was still in the bottom three. By the time you read this, you’ll know if she’s still on the show after Thursday night’s results. At the very least, Testone is going on the “American Idol” tour this summer by making it into the top 10.
Tracy Sanders, a 1991 graduate from Denmark-Olar High School who currently resides in New York City, was a guest on ABC’s “The Revolution” last month. The lifestyle talk show, which replaced the long-running soap opera “One Live to Live,” has a reality slant. Sanders, a USC-Aiken graduate who went on to earn a masters in public administration from USC and a law degree from Syracuse, appeared in a segment with “Project Runway’s” Tim Gunn. Apparently, Sanders was breaking fashion taboos and needed a makeover.
See a clip of Josh Turner with Hoda Kotb here
See a clip of Lee Brice with Hoda Kotb here