by Terry Duffy
Ah, spring is in the air. And many fun and interesting happenings are taking place around the Western New York scene, seemingly all at once.
The Sabres are once again battling for the playoffs, another "festive" Polar Bear Swim for Sight overwhelmed Olcott Beach last weekend, and now fabulous weather, hints of spring and a few signs of green are all around.
In these parts that "rite of spring" also includes countless tributes by the locals to Ireland's St. Patrick. You see it everywhere - the Irish green in stores, in bars and restaurants, at area schools, in the libraries, at local clubs, even on the fronts of area residences. It's a celebration of Irish culture that also typically marks the end of winter in Buffalo for the most part. Except this year there's been no winter.
So we might as well jump right into St. Patty's and spring.
What follows is a small sampling of the many St. Patrick's celebrations taking place over coming days in Erie and Niagara counties.
So many events, but not enough time to get to them all, you say. Well, consider these:
•Celebrate St. Patrick's Day at the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, Saturday, March 10, from noon to 4 p.m., at the historic Allan Herschell Company Factory building at 180 Thompson St., North Tonawanda.
You don't have to be Irish to join in the St. Patrick's Day fun! Put on some green and come out for a great afternoon for the family with crafts, games, history, and much more. Join in a scavenger hunt to find the fabled pot of gold, and take a ride on the carrousel with a lucky leprechaun along the way. Learn about Irish culture and the strong connections between this distant island and your own town and state. Discover the history of well-known Irish symbols and traditions, and separate the facts from the "blarney." Participate in special St. Patrick-themed crafts and activities, including making your own leprechaun and "Pin the Stem on the Shamrock." At 2 p.m., immerse yourself in Irish culture with a special performance by The McCarthy School of Irish Dance.
There's fun for all ages, so mark your calendar to join in. For further information, visit www.carrouselmuseum.org or call 693-1885.
Into some mid-week St. Patty's entertainment?
•How about a festive St. Patty's show featuring the Lochside Celtic band and the Rochez Dancers, Thursday, March 15, at 6 p.m. at The Rapids Theatre, 1711 Main St., in Niagara Falls.
•Or maybe Stone Row and the Rince na Tiarna Irish Dancers, Friday evening, March 16, at the Irishman Pub and Eatery, 5601 Main St., Williamsville.
•In the mood for some good old-fashioned Irish flavor? Then check out Brennan's Irish Pub, 418 Main St., in Youngstown, on Saturday, March 17. Experience old-time Irish pub charm in the quaint village. Drink specials that day include select Irish-import beers and ales, Irish shot specials and "Irish Car Bombs." Want dinner? Try the corned beef and cabbage and Reuben specials, available dine-in or take-out. It all gets under way at noon.
Like parades? Plenty to go around here.
•The 18th annual "Old Neighborhood" St. Patrick's Day Parade takes place Saturday, March 17, starting at noon in South Buffalo. A true taste of Old First Ward Buffalo Irish culture, the event presented by the Valley Community Association, 93 Leddy St., winds through neighborhood streets of "The Valley" in South Buffalo. For more information, call 823-4707 or visit www.thevalleycenter.com.
•The 30th annual St. Patrick's Day Celebration, presented by the Men's Division 1 of the Niagara Falls Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Ladies AOH opens Saturday, March 17, at 4:45 p.m. with "The World's Shortest" Parade, at Old Falls Street and Rainbow Boulevard North in Niagara Falls.
The celebration continues all evening at the Conference Center, 101 Falls St., Niagara Falls, from 5 to 11 p.m. "It's Irish celebrating in Niagara," says AOH Publicity Chair Pat Kerins. The event will feature music by The Blarney Bunch," dancing by the McCarthy School of Irish Dance, plenty of corned beef and cabbage and, of course, servings of Guinness and Harp beer on tap. "You can't miss this one," he says.
Donation is $7 advance or $8 at the door. Kerins adds the AOH and LAOH will be collecting non-perishable food items in memory of "On Gorta Mor" (the Great Irish Hunger of 1845-50) to benefit the Heart and Soul Food Pantry of Niagara Falls. Call 285-0764 for more information.
•The 72nd annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in Buffalo, presented by the United Irish Association, opens with a 10:30 a.m. Mass led by Bishop Edward Kmiec at St. Joseph's Cathedral in downtown Buffalo. The parade itself begins at 2 p.m. in Niagara Square and continues up Delaware Avenue to North Street.
Led this year by Grand Marshal Patrick Plunkett, the parade is regarded as one of the most popular Irish celebrations in the area. It typically features dozens of floats, bands and participants, and draws well over 100,000 visitors. Following the parade, the celebrations continue well into the evening with entertainment and more at sites throughout downtown Buffalo.
Yes, with the favorable weather expected to continue, St. Patty's Day is truly worth celebrating this year, as is spring itself. For much more on St. Patrick's Day events in the Buffalo-Niagara area, visit www.buffaloirishcenter.com.