Combine families, friends, a parade, an afternoon of music and lots and lots of beer, mix it all up in a whole bunch of green, and you’ve got St. Pat’s in Five Points.
The annual Irish festival in Columbia’s historic entertainment district saw tens of thousands of revelers Saturday.
Drink beer, save pets
What better place to find “a good 40,000 people to get a couple dollars from” than St. Pat’s on a blessedly sunny afternoon?
Chalk it up to the luck of the Irish that the predicted rain and thunderstorms held off, and Chris Oxner and Eddie Rose found a friendly crowd eager to donate to a good cause.
Oxner and Rose stood out among almost every other costumed reveler in Five Points, which was their plan.
In exchange for photographs with the robed and boa-donning pair, Oxner and Rose collected donations for Pawmetto Lifeline pet shelter. Each of the past three years, they said, they have collected more than $300 for the shelter.
“You’ve got to have a gimmick” to get people to donate, Oxner said.
Theirs was their outfits – which worked out well for them since “both of us love any chance to wear a costume,” Oxner said.
Enough green to go around
Glenn Vaught still has green dye left over in his hair from last weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Myrtle Beach.
He re-dyed his hair and beard neon green Saturday to match his neon green-dyed canvas shoes and a green ensemble that has taken him three years to put together.
Hundreds of people stop him at St. Patrick’s Day events to have their pictures taken with him, he said. And he loves it.
“They’re great,” he said of the St. Pat’s crowd in Five Points. “Everybody has a good attitude.”
Vaught has no Irish connections in his heritage, and he doesn’t even drink beer.
But he loves St. Pat’s, he said, because “I love having fun.”
A day to remember – if you can
On the way to Five Points Saturday, Robbie Morgan and Matthew Watchorn reminisced about a few of their favorite St. Pat’s memories (or lack thereof).
Two years ago, they had a bachelor party at the festival.
“We were thinking about different things that happened that day,” Watchorn said. “What we can’t remember. What we want to forget. ...”
This year, they wore costumes of green items they have accumulated over the years and some they’ve made themselves.
Watchorn’s advice to St. Pat’s newbies is “pace yourself” – to which Morgan shook his head.
“He’s also the guy that always wanders off,” Watchorn said.
“What’s the worst that could happen to a guy with a kilt in Five Points?” Morgan said. “I always come back.”
Making their own parade
Follow the chalk, find the beer!
Colleen Barkley and the rest of the Secession Hash House Harriers had no idea where they were going, but they know when they got there, there would be beer.
They are “A drinking club with a running problem” that regularly follows chalk-marked trails through Columbia.
But for Columbia’s annual St. Pat’s parade, they consider themselves the pre-parade – dashing along Shandon sidewalks in tutus, dresses and all sorts of garishly green garb.
“We are our own parade,” Barkley said.
Some members of the group had gone ahead to mark the Hashers’ trail. The rest knew only that it would end in libations and celebrations.
The Hashers, many of them professionals from Columbia and from other groups in nearby cities, say they enjoy the group as an opportunity to mingle, act silly and blow off steam.
Watching a community unite
With her 7-year-old daughter beside her holding a cupful of candy collected from paraders, Natalie Quinn-Hall took in the parade atmosphere along Devine Street before Saturday’s festival truly got into full swing.
“It’s such a good, fun atmosphere,” she said.
She and her husband, Daniel Hall, come every year with their children, 7-year-old Quinn and 3-year-old Nathan. They sat on the pavement outside Natalie’s Devine Street law office and greeted friends who passed by in the parade.
“On the way here, I loved watching all the people come from the different neighborhoods,” Natalie said. “I don’t care what you’re getting together for, so long as it’s community and everybody’s together for the same purpose. It’s too cool.”
Reach Ellis at (803) 771-8307.