Irish for a day? Prepare for big St. Patrick’s Day crowds in NJ
When St. Patrick's Day lands on a random weekday, bars get an extra few hours of business. But when it lands on a Friday, which is the case this year, that's the real moneymaker.
New Jersey taverns are bracing for a mad rush of green, in more than one way. And if you're headed out to celebrate on Friday, may the luck of the Irish be with you.
"We do hope for pure insanity," said Maureen Martin, bartender at Celtic Cottage in Long Branch. "That would be fantastic because we're cooking hundreds of pounds of corned beef."
Doors open at 9 a.m. Friday and the live Irish music starts at noon, with another band scheduled for 6 p.m.
"We'll just be kind of celebrating all weekend," Martin added.
The celebration can actually last all weekend without a pause at Irish Pub in Atlantic City, a 24-hour establishment.
According to manager Frank Pileggi, the St. Patrick's Day festivities typically wind down before midnight when the big drinking holiday falls on a Tuesday or Wednesday, for example. But that's not the case this year; there's not as much of a reason for customers to head home early.
"We'll have a nice big crowd and they'll stay much later," Pileggi said. "The bar will be two-three deep, that's for sure."
And the party continues at the historic pub Saturday. Decades ago, the staff created its own holiday for Mar. 18 — Bag Day — that attracts locals and out-of-staters who spent months creating unique decorations to put over their heads, or even their entire bodies.
But featuring the word "Celtic" or "Irish" isn't a must to attract a bigger-than-usual Friday crowd. If the beer is flowing, they will come.
Marco Giancarli, owner of River Rock Restaurant & Marina Bar in Brick, said he expects to see "a lot of green out there" all day and night.
"For severs and bartender, there will be extra staff put on that we normally wouldn't have on a regular Friday night," he said.
The bar is featuring a promotion that gives patrons a shot to "try their luck" in order to win $10,000. To win the money last year, customers had one chance to roll five dice and spell the word "LUCKY."
Police in New Jersey will be looking for those who may have partied too hard and still choose to get behind the wheel. State Police announced a series of checkpoints for Friday:
- Belmar/Neptune area in Monmouth County
- Garden State Parkway northbound entrance ramp at Exit 98 in Wall, Monmouth County
- New Jersey Turnpike Hudson Bay Extension entrance at Exit 14C in Jersey City
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.