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Plan now for your St. Patrick’s Day festivities

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March has arrived. It’s the month that Spring begins, we go to Daylight Savings Time, start the religious build up to Easter and celebrate National Puppy Day. Yes, there really is a National Puppy Day, it’s March 23. Who knew, right? I guess the people running animal shelters or something. Of course there is one annual celebration right in the middle of the month that gets all the attention and that’s March 17, Saint Patrick’s Day.

I’m getting a little jump on writing about it because this year it’s going to be huge. It falls on a Saturday so everything significant will be loaded onto the actual day rather than the weekend before or scattered throughout the week. This year, the party is on!

Alright, let me clue you all in on a little something. I’m Irish on my Mother’s side. Usually I’m right in the thick of things come Saint Patrick’s Day. I break out my Ireland shirts, wear the hat I bought in Shannon, don my Celtic jewelry, and proudly wear my button with the Sullivan coat of arms. When it comes to Saint Patrick’s Day, I’m all in. I’m that guy that knows the words to all the Irish songs and sings along loudly, embarrassing most of my friends and family.

If you want to make the most out of your celebration this year, here’s a little advice from a guy who knows. Start planning your adventure now, because it’s going to be crazy out there. On the surface, it seems like a simple task. Show up at an Irish pub, order a beer and a plate of corned beef and cabbage, then sit back to enjoy the festivities. Well, this year it’s not going to be that easy.

First of all, every single Irish establishment will be packed to the rafters by noon. Yes, noon. Being a Saturday, things will start early, go on all day, and continue all night. Denver’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the biggest in the country and it’s happening on, yup, March 17. Downtown Denver will be packed to the max. If you want to get into that scene, plan on staking out a spot at the crack of dawn because the parade steps off at 9:30 a.m.. To find out more than you ever dreamed of, including where the port-a-potties are located, go to www.denverstpatricksdayparade.com.

Now, as to the local Irish pubs. They have all been planning this for more than a year now. Every single Irish pipe band, folk music band, step dancer school and professional leprechaun impersonators are booked all over town, all day and night. The larger groups actually charter busses so they can get from one gig to another. They will pull in, unload, do a show, get back on the bus and head to the next one, all within an hour. Some of these groups are booked for over a dozen shows on that day. The crowds at these places will be huge. Plan on carpooling if you can, because parking will be difficult. Also plan on long lines to get in, because they still have to follow the fire codes and can only let a specified number of people in at a time. A designated driver is probably a good decision as well.

But, I did mange to find one hidden gem, right here in Golden that will give you a terrific Irish experience but is far enough off the radar that it won’t be a total nightmare. It’s the New Terrain Brewing Company, located at 16401 Table Mountain Parkway, which is on the east side of North Table Mountain.

They will be hosting a Saint Patrick’s Day Party from noon until 9 p.m. with live Irish style music by Burn It Blue from 3-7 p.m., Irish dancers and Irish food catered by J. Street. They will also be featuring their own brew called Mintnight Express, which is a Chocolate-Mint Stout. This is a beautiful facility with it’s own parking lot and just off the beaten track so it will be fun without the hassles.

They have a website at www.newterrainbrewing.com or you can all them for more information at (720) 697-7848.

No matter what kind of adventure you choose this year, make is a safe and fun one. A bit of planning and consideration will go a long way. Sláinte!

John Akal is a well-known jazz artist/drummer and leader of the 20-piece Ultraphonic Jazz Orchestra. He also is president of John Akal Imaging, professional commercial photography and multi-media production. He can be reached at jaimaging@aol.com

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