TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - St. Patrick’s Day is undoubtedly one of the biggest drinking holidays of the year. Wednesday night, March 17, bar owners weighed the risks and rewards of holding large celebrations.
After a year of COVID-19 cancellations, some pubs saw a lot of green.
On Main Gate Square, long lines formed outside of bars with very little social distancing. Some young adults wore masks as they walked along the sidewalks and waited to be seated. However, many others decided not to.
It was a completely different feel at another party a mile away. Hotel Congress was all about crowd control as it hosted a “Civilized St. Patrick’s Day on the Plaza.”
“We sort of leaned into the civilized nature,” said entertainment director David Slutes. “Everyone has to sit, we have great food, great drinks. But it’s not going to be a green beer drink fest.”
Last year, Hotel Congress skipped its annual St. Patrick’s Day party over pandemic concerns. This year brought better fortune, however, Slutes says they decided to keep capacity at 15% even though Gov. Doug Ducey lifted limitations on businesses.
“The revenue is secondary to just re-establishing what we do,” Slutes said.
It made for a more intimate gathering, which was fine by Stephanie Beuclar and Vicki Krick. The two snowbirds have received their COVID-19 vaccines and can finally see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
“After my second shot, it was like tears just started to roll down,” said Beuclar. “Because you don’t realize the stress everyone is under.”
The party provided them with an opportunity to leave their worries behind.
“My grandmother was an O’Connell; so 100% Irish,” said Beuclar. “I’m celebrating her memory, she would wear all green. It just means a lot.”
“Since we started coming to Tucson about 10 years ago, we really enjoyed coming to the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations,” said Krick. “Hotel Congress is one of our favorite spots.”
Police were seen patrolling University Boulevard, pulling over suspected drunk and high drivers. However, officers did not appear to be enforcing the mask mandate. The city of Tucson still requires all residents to wear a mask while maintaining social distancing in public settings.