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St. Patrick's Day Guide 2005

It's that time of year again. Don your green bowler and brush up on all your best Celtic pickup lines, because 'tis the season when everybody's Irish. That means you'd better be able to down the drinks and sing a traditional Irish tune or two. St. Patrick doesn't want to see Houston slacking on this, his holiest of days.

Last year Playboy reported that Houston has one of the lowest Irish populations in the country, but there's no shortage of Irish pubs and other watering holes that work hard to pay their respects to the Patron Saint of Beer (wait, isn't that St. Arnold?). So gear up and get out into the city to support these fine establishments in their efforts to get you as drunk as a mad leprechaun.

SATURDAY, MARCH 12

Cory MorrowGet lucky with live Thoroughbred racing and a fabulous concert at Sam Houston Race Park. The northwest Houston track will be hosting a St. Patrick's Day Party, and the festivities will include green beer and a live concert by Cory Morrow. The concert will take place following the last Thoroughbred race. Morrow, a native Texan, began playing the guitar while attending Memorial High School in west Houston. He attended Texas Tech University and studied the lyrics and musical groove of Texas musician Robert Earl Keen. Morrow's releases include Texas Time Travelin', The Cory Morrow Band, The Man That I Have Been and Cory Morrow Live: Double Exposure. 5:30 p.m. $3 before 9 p.m.; $5 after 9 p.m.; $1 for senior citizens.

Irish American Heritage Association St. Patrick's Day DanceThe Irish American Heritage Association, a gathering of people of Irish descent and those who appreciate Irish culture and its gifts to the world, wants you to celebrate St. Paddy's Day by dancing the night away. Enjoy the sounds of the Cass Irish Dance Troupe and music by the great DJ David O'Clark. Caricatures will be drawn by world-renowned J-Wax. 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. $10; BYOB.

St. Patrick's Day Parade DowntownAlways a free event, the two-hour St. Patrick's Day Parade historically has been one of the largest in the country and will include more than 100 entries to delight the Irish and Irish-at-heart. "The St. Patrick's Day Parade gives everyone a chance to be Irish," says Pat Duane. "It's one day when the sounds, sights and celebration transcend all nationalities and people come together to celebrate the spirit of the Irish."

The St. Patrick's Parade Commission is proud to announce this year's parade grand marshal, James D. Wetherbee, a retired captain in the United States Navy and former NASA astronaut. This year's parade theme is "The Irish Salute Irish Heroes, Past and Present" and is dedicated to Ann Ivins, grand-niece of Dick Dowling, famous Civil War hero and Houstonian.

Houston's St. Patrick's Day Parade is rooted firmly in the city's heritage. The first parades date back to the 1880s, when the parade was started in "Irish Town" by old St. Patrick's Church. Flags, bands and marchers hit Market Square for a day of fun, games, music, food and drink. The people spilled in and out of the various pubs in Market Square.

The parade continued until World War I, when the Irish scattered all over the growing city. The Great Depression and World War II took priority in people's lives and the parade disappeared. In 1960, radio personalities Tim Nolan and Bob Bryant announced a St. Patrick's Day Parade for downtown Houston. This little parade was only a few blocks long, but it sowed the seeds of the current St. Patrick's Day Parade. See map on page 62 for route. 2 p.m. Free. St. Patrick's Day "1960" Parade and CelebrationsThis parade benefits the Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services (CCEMS). Last year's parade and related events raised $30,000 to assist CCEMS in purchasing a new ambulance. This year, all proceeds will go toward the CCEMS Scholarship Fund and community- and prevention-based programs for children.

The parade begins at 2 p.m. at the Wells Fargo parking lot at Champions Forest Drive and FM 1960 and ends at The Boat Seafood Restaurant at the corner of FM 1960 and Kuykendahl. Revelers should make their way to the 3.5-mile parade route as early as possible; 60,000 to 80,000 folks are expected.

THURSDAY, MARCH 17
ST. PATRICK'S DAY

Brian O'Neill's Traditional Irish PubYou can spend your entire day at one of Houston's premier Irish pubs. At 9 a.m. enjoy brunch and a traditional Irish breakfast, served until noon, featuring traditional Celtic music by the Highlanders on the patio stage. At 1:30 p.m. Murder the Stout, featuring traditional Irish drinking songs, leads a sing-along on the patio stage until 5:30 p.m. Then at 6 p.m., the Slags will take the stage. This Clear Lake band brings a large repertoire of music spanning from the '70s to present-day hits, including some traditional Irish drinking songs, so get out your dancing shoes. At 7:30 p.m., the McTeggart Irish Dancers of South Texas will perform on the patio stage. These young ladies are amazing. Make sure to come early and get a good spot. Then "around eightish" the Slags will return to the patio stage and rock out until 10 p.m., when the Trey Clark Band will take over and rock the indoor stage until closing time. There are also rumors of a sexy kilt contest. Hmmm.

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