In 2017, Fort Wayne came in at number 26 on WalletHub’s list of the best places to spend St. Patrick’s Day.
It ranked ahead of such cities as Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Minneapolis, and Baltimore.
Indianapolis came in at 110 that year.
Last year, Indianapolis rose considerably in the standings, ranking at number 54. But it was still well behind Fort Wayne, which had risen to number 20.
Indianapolis residents and devotees get sniffy when Fort Wayne is rated higher than Naptown on lists of this sort. But anybody who knows Fort Wayne knows how special this holiday is to the city. Many Summit City residents take a day or two off work to celebrate, which won’t be necessary for most people this year, as the holiday falls on the weekend.
Here is a guide to St. Patrick’s Day 2019, which stretches over two (and even three) days, as befits any celebration that is rated 34 places higher than a similar one in Indianapolis. This list is by no means exhaustive but it did exhaust me to compile it, as I am not as young as I used to be.
J.K. O’Donnell’s, 121 W. Wayne St.
The beloved Irish pub and restaurant will have its St. Patrick’s Day tent on the 16th but only on the 16th. Festivities move indoors on the 17th. Scheduled performers on March 16 include The Goat’s Beards and Lalo Cura. Soltre will perform inside the restaurant on March 17.
Green beer (aka dyed lager) will be served across Fort Wayne on this holiday, but not at J.K. O’Donnell’s.
J.K. O’Donnell’s would undoubtedly agree with beer expert Dan Oliver, who once defined the true Irish beer experience as the “four horsemen of the Emerald Isle” — Guinness, Murphy’s, Harp, and Smithwick’s.
O’Sullivans Italian Pub, 1808 W. Main St.
There’s a lot of fun to be had at O’Sullivans Italian Pub on St. Patrick’s Day, but don’t expect a lot of what the Irish might describe as seomra uillinn: elbow room. Part of the fun of celebrating this holiday at O’Sullivans is getting up close and personal with your fellow celebrants, of which there are always plenty. It has become customary on St. Patrick’s Day to pinch people who aren’t wearing green. O’Sullivans is so packed on the holiday that much of the pinching is involuntary.
O’Sullivans made national news in 1982 for continuing to party even after that notorious flood.
“If St. Paddy can keep the snakes out of Ireland, we can keep the water out of O’Sullivans,” owner Frank Casagrande told UPI at the time.
On the evening of March 16, O’Sullivans will get an early start on the holiday by hosting funk duo Love Hustler.
Deer Park Irish Pub, 1530 Leesburg Road
If you don’t know that Deer Park Irish Pub is Fort Wayne’s unofficial St. Patrick’s Day headquarters, then you must have been living under a rock. This is unacceptable unless the rock you were living under is the Blarney Stone.
Deer Park will host its 21st annual Clover Classic this year. This year, the three-day event will consist of Irish Step-Dancing demonstrations by the Fort Wayne Dance Collective, an Irish trivia contest, a keg toss, a Shamrock Sprint run, and what the venue’s owner, Tony Henry, calls “the shortest parade in the world.” There will be several bands including Indianapolis’ Beautiful Day, a U2 tribute act.
Food will be Irish lattes and Irish doughnuts in the morning and corned beef sandwiches later in the day.
“These will be nice, authentic, corned beef sandwiches,” Henry said. “I really stack ’em up. I quarter pound ’em.”
Henry said he will even give a brief educational talk about the life of Saint Patrick.
“It’s a little philosophical and theological reflection,” he said. “I want to bring a little sanity in about the man. It’s not all about beer drinking.”
Mitchells Sports Bar & Neighborhood Grill, 6179 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Mitchell’s will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 16 by hosting the Ultimate ’90s Dance Party. Entertainment will be provided by Chicago’s Fool House. Be sure to request Lou Bega’s hit, “Irish Jig No. 5.”
Get Green Fest, Main and Union Streets
The only truly family-friendly event devoted to this holiday, Get Green Fest features area firefighters dyeing St. Mary’s River with benign vegetable dye on Saturday, March 16. There is also an event tent and a “5-kilt run/walk.” Under-tent activities include a gold coin hunt for the kiddos and a Lucky-Charms-eating contest. The event tent will be located near West Main Street and Union Street. Entertainment will be provided by the Unsigned Reggae Band (U.R.B.).
Pedal City, 1215 W. Main St.
On March 16 and 17, Pedal City will offer a $25 wristband that will give the wearer unlimited rides on Pedal City’s so-dubbed “Pedal Pubs.” Pedal Pubs are enormous bicycles that resemble mobile saloons. They can accommodate 14 riders and plenty of booze.
On St. Patrick’s Day weekend, Pedal City’s Pedal Pubs will shuttle folks to, between, and among two locales that are traditionally popular on this holiday: O’Sullivans and Deer Park.
On the 17th, Pedal City will be hosting a Kegs n’ Eggs Brunch starting at 10 a.m. Kegs n’ Eggs and Pints n’ Pancakes are popular breakfast concepts on St. Patrick’s Day. These sorts of morning events have largely replaced the more traditional Absinthe n’ Abalone.
Summit City Brewerks, 1501 E. Berry St.
On March 17, Summit City Brewerks will be having activities all day including a Jigg-Off (an Irish dance contest) and a Lucky Charms-eating competition. Chances are that more attendees will be familiar with eating the cereal than dancing a jig, but green beer makes experts of us all.
Entertainment will be provided by the Goshen folk-rock band McLane & Co.
Henry’s Restaurant, 536 W. Main St.
Henry’s opens at 4 p.m. every day of the year but one: St. Patrick’s Day. On St. Patrick’s Day, it opens at 11 a.m. and offers a menu of traditional Irish delights that lures noshers from Limerick, Ill., to Dublin, Ohio. (That may not be true, but it sounds good, doesn’t it?)
The Ruin Bar, 1201 W. Main St.
The new Ruin Bar is considerably less of a ruin than previous incarnations in that locale. And on St. Patrick’s Day, it will host the Mighty McGuiggans. The McGuiggans are like an Irish-American version of the Traveling Wilburys: a local supergroup that assembles whenever someone wants to hear Irish music.