ST. PAT’S IN FIVE POINTS: Arrested Development finish festival

March 16, 2013 

5:56 p.m.: Arrested Development finished off St. Pat's in Five Points with an energetic performance that featured their biggest hits.

Festival organizers wanted to diversify its musical acts and to bring in bigger names than in past years.

For Charlean Barnes, their goal was met. “It's very diverse,” Barnes said. “It's real cultural, and there's something for everybody.”

Barnes loved Arrested Development's performance.

“I love it,” she said. “They've been around forever.”

4:45 p.m.: With only an hour and 15 minutes left to go, the lines to get in the festival have thinned, but people are still coming by to get tickets, organizers say.

Stephanie and Ron Saverance have just arrived but the Rock Hill couple says they were at the festival earlier in the day, “had a few drinks,” then decided to leave and take a break. Smart move.

Mindy Lucas

4:30 p.m.: As Arrested Development gets the crowd back up on their feet, the crowds begin to swell. Arrests start popping up. Over by the Wells Fargo Bank, a young man can be seen arguing with police. He is placed in handcuffs and walked away while down on the opposite end of Blossom Street near the Harden Street intersection, two young women are handcuffed and walked out.

Mindy Lucas

4 p.m.: At festival headquarters on Blossom Street, the festival association’s Geah Pressgrove says it's too early to release attendance numbers. But she did say the festival had about 800 volunteers working.

Wow.

And she said both staff and volunteers have been working hard to keep everything running smoothly.

“The crowd is flowing great,” says Pressgrove of the new layout. “There were a few times today where things were backed up, but we moved quickly to move staff from one area to another.”

Another difference this year: IDs were checked at shuttle stops to keep lines moving once revelers arrived at their gate.

Mindy Lucas

2:40 p.m.: A fashion trend for St. Pat's 2013? Mustaches.

Images go handlebar mustaches and bushy 1970s 'stashes are on plenty of T-shirts. Many bear sayings not suitable for a family newspaper.

One group taking advantage of the trend was Decided Church, a Columbia congregation with an edgy attitude.

Elisa Reese, the pastor's wife, said they wanted to reach out to people with something memorable.

“Mustaches are in, so we decided to give away mustache straws,” she said. “It's a hipster thing.”

She and other women from the church cut out 5,000 paper mustaches and glued them onto straws. The straws were given away with bottles of water, a necessity in the warm weather.

Church members said they caught festival organizers by surprise when they asked to be in the parade and set up a display tent.

“One guy asked us, 'Are you sure you want to? There's going to be a lot of drinking.'“

Reese said the church knew what to expect. They saw the festival as an opportunity to reach out to young people.

“We're trying to reach out to them instead of waiting for them to come to us,” she said.

Noelle Phillips

2 p.m.: At Saluda’s, the beers were flying fast as owner Steven Cook hustled to keep the beer pool stocked on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.

Upstairs, the VIP room was doing a respectable business.

For $75 to $100 dollars, VIP guests received access to probably one of the best spots for people-watching in all of Five Points – the restaurant’s second-floor veranda.

Guests also were treated to an open bar and a catered lunch consisting of barbecue, corned beef, hash, potato salad and other Irish delicacies. “Our chef gets really excited about the menu,” owner Cook said of chef Blake Faries.

Cook said Saluda’s had been offering the VIP experience of getting “up and above it all” for six years now.

“Everyone seems to be having a good time,” he said.

Mindy Lucas

1:30 p.m. The streets had begun filling up with revelers as a sea of green could be seen stretching down Harden Street and the mercury began to climb into the mid-70s, then the 80s.

But the crowds didn't seem to be as congested as last year, vendors reported.

“It does seem to be flowing a bit better this year,” said volunteer Donna Lee. Both Lee and volunteer Deborah Lybrand said business at the Bud Light beer truck near Harden and Devine streets had been brisk.

Funds raised at their truck Saturday were going to charity. Lee was volunteering for Palmetto Lifeline, and Lybrand, for Sister Care.

Mindy Lucas

1:20 p.m.: He called himself “Incognito,” saying concealing his identity was part of his St . Paddy's Day fun.

But he swore he was not a high-profile public official trying to get away with being a drunken clown for a day.

“I wanted to have a really good time, and I wanted to be unknown,” he said.

The green body suit with gold shamrocks on it cost $14.95 at Party City, and he paid $4.95 for the white and green boxer shorts he wore over the body suit.

The suit covered his entire body with one important exception - a hole over his mouth that was just big enough to fit a straw.

Noelle Phillips

1 p.m.: Besides stages with all sorts of bands, bars are blaring music from their open windows.

This is leading to impromptu dancing in the streets.

About a dozen or so people formed a Wobble-line when V.I.C.'s hip-hop hit began blasting from The Saloon on Harden Street. Men and women joined in, and the experienced taught the uninitiated how to hop, wiggle and cha cha at all the right beats.

“I got to Wobble in the street,” said C.J Lake, a USC junior from Saluda. “ It will probably never happen again.”

Lake said she was attending her first St. Pat's in Five Points.

“This is my first legal year,” the 21-year-old said. “I decided to come check it out.”

Noelle Phillips

12:45 p.m.: The St. Pat's in Five Points organizers changed the festival layout this year to ease congestion along Harden Street. The plan was an early hit.

Kris Esgar and Randy Borawski, two DJs for WXRY radio station, were pleased with their stage's new location at the intersection of Harden and College streets.

“It's more of a destination stage than a walk-by stage,” Borawski said.

In past years, their stage, which features local music, was near the Five Points fountain in the heart of the festival. It was overshadowed by a larger stage across the street, and late-afternoon crowds made it nearly impossible for people to stop and listen, he said.

Plus, the new location was near a festival entrance.

“It gives people walking in something to listen to,” Esgar said.

Debbie McDaniel and Joe Wilson, two Five Points business owners, thought the improved layout made sense, especially as the crowd surged in the mid-afternoon.

“I like what they've done,” Wilson said.

Noelle Phillips

12:30 p.m.: On Santee Avenue, they were shagging and doing the “Biker's Shuffle” by Big Mucci.

Faye Terry, of Lancaster, had driven down to St. Pat's with about 12 other members from the Lancaster Shag Club and for awhile it seemed the 40 and 50-somethings were showing the 20-somethings how to do it.

Terry said the group came last year and “had a ball.”

“We're having a great time having fun and just watching everybody else,” she said.

They were back again this year, and with 75-degree weather midday it was the perfect time to be dancing in the street.

Mindy Lucas

11:45 a.m.: As the festivities continued outside, Frank and Capers Grimball of Charleston sat in a booth inside Yesterday's restaurant, their backs against the bar. Their daughter, Harrison, say between them, watching the parade roll by outside.

Both Harrison Grimball and her father had gotten up at the crack of dawn to run the festival's 5K. Both did well, but Grimball was especially proud to have beaten her dad.

The three were enjoying their vantage point. “This is a great view,” said Capers Grimball.

The family particularly enjoyed the parade’s “hounds and hoops” entry – they have a Basset hound themselves.

Frank Grimball, a 1983 graduate of USC's Law School, was enjoying being back in Columbia.

“Brings back a lot of memories,” he said.

Mindy Lucas

10:45 a.m.: Decked out from head to toe in a St. Patrick's-themed ensemble, Carri Addington, of Columbia, was the height of fashion.

Addington had paired a flowing green sundress from Loose Lucy's with an emerald green mask from Hip Wa Zee. Topped with a black wig, she was the epitome of mystery and intrigue.

“I'm all local,” she said, smiling.

Addington, who normally works at Drip Coffee as a barrista, was helping Five Points merchant Don McCallister man his booth on Harden Street.

The owner of Loose Lucy's and a former president of the Five Points Association, McCallister said everyone is interested to see how the festival’s new layout is going to affect business. Last year more than 40,000 revelers crammed into Five Points for the celebration causing a bottleneck on Harden Street. This year, festival organizers have spread out food vendors and beer trucks to help create better traffic flow.

“We're expecting it to do well,” McCallister said.

Mindy Lucas

10:30: Six-year-old Quindai Huggins leaned back in a swing, rested her head back with arms folded behind her neck and enjoyed the ride.

Oh, to be a kid!

Quindai joined sisters, Quindia and Quindrea, on the ride in MLK park, where the St. Pat's Pot 'O Gold Playland was in full swing. The girls – yes, they are identical triplets – wore matching green Angry BirdsT-shirts that read “Lucky Charms.” Their older brother, Quindon, 8, rode with them

“I was a little scared,” Quindrea said.

Their mother, Kenisha Huggins, said the kids were having fun, but she was worried about the money they were breezing through. Twenty tickets for rides cost $25, and she already had used half of them so her children could ride the swings.

But there also were acts, such as the Caughman Road Elementary School step team, to entertain them.

Not to mention a petting zoo with llamas and a camel. (Are those Irish?)

Noelle Phillips

10:25 a.m.: The 282nd Army Band out of Fort Jackson kicked off Columbia’s daylong St. Patrick's Day celebration in Five Points Saturday morning with a spirited New Orleans-style jazz number that was not lost on the crowd gathered along Devine Street.

At the corner of Devine and Harden Street, or Ground Zero for the parade, Erin and Randy Willie had the primo spot. The couple had brought their three children – Lila, 2, Ethan, 7, and Brayden, 12 – to the festivities and were marveling at how different it felt this year.

“This is the first time we've brought the kids,” she said.

Having gone to the celebration in years past as a couple, they weren't used to being at the event as an entire family.

“This is different,” she said. “It's early.”

The family, she said, was planning to spend a little more time at the festival after the parade concluded but would be leaving as “soon as things got a little less family-friendly,” she said.

How did she know when that would be?

“When the drinking starts,” she said.

Mindy Lucas

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