Five Points turned its usual green scene Saturday as the Irish and all their friends took to the streets.
The beer flowed freely and the dance moves came easily – if not so soberly or gracefully – at Columbia’s 35th annual St. Pat’s in Five Points celebration.
“Lots of good music, lots of good food. And, of course, nothing wrong with a Guinness every once in a while,” said Troy McNall, the local president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the largest and oldest Irish Catholic fraternal organization in the world. Donning a kilt, blazer and Irish sash, McNall was in his element.
A dreary, drizzly start to the day quickly livened up as more than two dozen bands played for the tens of thousands of garishly green revelers. St. Paul and The Broken Bones, of Birmingham, Ala., headlined the day’s shows.
St. Pat’s is one of the largest festivals of the year in the Midlands and one of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the Southeast. Last year, some 44,000 people reportedly attended the daylong event in the popular downtown village.
Sitting by the dyed-green Five Points fountain, Judy Johnson and her daughter, Jessika, swayed to the sounds of Los Colognes playing a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” in the early afternoon.
Judy Johnson had been drawing lots of attention in the crowd, as she wore a Lucky Charms cereal box costume.
“I’ve seen a lot of smiles,” she said.
Smiles and good times, just as much as beer and green things, were the themes of the day.
For as long as she can remember – and for no particular reason she can explain – St. Patrick’s Day has always been Susan Locke’s favorite holiday.
The University of South Carolina student was proud to show off to her brother, Greg, and friends from out of town how Columbia celebrates her favorite day.
“Green is my favorite color. Everybody wears green. Everybody drinks beer. It’s just fun,” Locke said. “I love it.”
Reach Ellis at (803) 771-8307.