COLUMBIA, SC — Deanna Wright and her cousin Anna Wright of Columbia thought they would venture down to Five Points on Friday night before the beer flowed and the streets became jammed with people.
(Were here) definitely to avoid the crowds, said Deanna Wright, laughing.
The two were out taking a leisurely stroll Friday night along Saluda Avenue with their three children Samiyah, 7, Jamarie, 8 and Justice, 16 in tow.
The family had already enjoyed pizza from Pops NY Pizza along Harden Street and had purchased a turkey leg and funnel cake from a street vendor nearby. And while they all said they were enjoying their night out together, the group was not planning to return Saturday for the areas annual St. Patricks Day Festival.
Its something different, said Deanna Wright, explaining that the two hailed from the small town of Ehrhardt. Were not used to all this, so we just thought wed come out tonight.
While Saturdays annual celebration of all things Irish might be the biggest day of the year for Five Points, in years past, the night before has started to become something of a party itself. Call it a preview or a mini-festival, but whatever you call it, it was evident that something was in the air Friday.
Street vendors, already chopping onions and flipping sausages on the grill, had begun setting up early while spectators were out wandering the streets in small groups or families.
Whitney and Caroline Keen, from Camden, seemed to be mirroring the Wrights. The two had been out enjoying dinner with their two children and a friend of their childrens and had come down to Five Points to pick up a race registration.
Whitney Keen was planning to return to Five Points on Saturday morning to run the 10K. But the rest of the family was planning to stay home.
We debated coming out after, but its a just a mob, he said. Its hard with children their age. The children range in age from 9 to 13 making them a bit too old for the childrens carnival and a bit too young for bands, he said.
But one group out for a sneak peek Friday night was planning on returning the next day. Utivia Barnes, Aungelique Lee, Brenda Campbell and Maya Williams had walked down from Benedict College, where the three are students.
Weve been talking about this for the last month, Campbell said.
The women were excited to find vendors already selling funnel cakes and were taking in the sights and smells already.
The food is like sooo ..., said Williams as she closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. I know, said Barnes. We have got to go home and get our green on.
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