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Students celebrate St. Patrick's Day despite snow

For Michala Ebert, St. Patrick’s Day is like Christmas in Mount Pleasant.

The Rosebush senior was “putting in work” at O’Kelly’s Sports Bar and Grille before starting her 6 p.m. shift. With a gin and tonic in hand, Ebert said she wanted to make sure she got to celebrate the Irish holiday.

“For college kids, this is the best day of the year,” she said. “People get crazy. It’s a party from early in the morning until late at night.”

O’Kelly’s was the first stop in a long day for many students. The bar opened at 9 a.m. with $1.25 pint drink specials. A line formed outside before the doors opened.

Patrick Dupont, a fifth-year student from Colorado, started his day at O’Kelly’s. “Everybody has a good time and you never have to worry,” Dupont said, sporting a green shirt. “I’m just going to see where the day takes me.”

By 2 p.m., snow began to fall in Mount Pleasant. Despite the cold temperatures and wet snow, students still showed up on Main Street to enjoy the festivities.

Members of Pi Kappa Phi stood outside their fraternity house selling grilled cheese sandwiches for $1 to raise money for the fraternity. James Izzo, a member of PKP, said the day celebrates college culture as much as Irish heritage. He said a big part of his St. Patrick’s Day is looking out for others during a holiday known for day drinking.

“There’s always a risk and not everyone is a genius,” said the Taylor sophomore. “People always make poor decisions. But whenever I see someone making a poor decision, I try to let them know. We’re trying to make that a part of the culture — to look out for each other.”

Across the street, Brian Baldwin was selling hot dogs and pulled pork sandwiches for Bubba Q Barbecue. He’s got “a little Irish” in him, “but don’t we all,” said the CMU alumnus.

“This day is always a little wild,” Baldwin said. “There’s usually people crawling around and enjoying a good time. They like St. Patrick’s Day for what it means, or at least what they think it means.”

Mayor Kathy Ling drove past the fraternity houses to see the crowd when it began snowing. She said she was shocked that so many “hardy souls” were braving the weather.

“There’s no question,” the holiday is one of the biggest days of the year for many, Ling said.

With some students planning all-day parties, Ling said Mount Pleasant officials, university administrators and local police worked ahead of St. Patrick’s Day to educate students about the city’s expectations.

“Some years it can get pretty wild,” Ling said. “Our primary concern is that everyone stays safe. We want people to have fun, but that they do it safely and look out for themselves, their friends and their neighbors.”

Despite the nod from Ling to have fun, it was a bittersweet St. Patrick’s Day for Bailey Green. This year was the last time the senior will enjoy the day as a student. Every year, Bailey and her roommates partake in the celebration. She said the memories are important.

Green worked in the morning and started her day at 10 a.m. by eating green eggs and ham, washed down with green beer at O’Kelley’s. She and her friends moved onto Main Street later, spent time at the Bird Bar and Grill and ended their night with a glass of water at Marty’s Bar.

Green made sure to pace herself. St. Patrick’s Day is a marathon and not a sprint, she said.

“I wanted to make sure I celebrated with my friends,” said the Clinton Township native. “It’s sad that it’s going to end.”

Green’s friend, Serena Galea, graduated in December. She came back to Mount Pleasant from her new home in Boston to see her friends.

From her view, Galea said students don’t celebrate like they used to. She was unsure if the poor weather or police crackdown were to blame.

“It’s a lot different than it was before,” the Saline native said. “It’s still been fun, but it used to be more open and everyone used to celebrate together. I wouldn’t say it’s a bummer, but if you haven’t seen how it used to be, you have no idea.”

Across the street from Marty’s, Baldwin was still selling his hot dogs and pulled pork sandwiches. Despite the cold weather, he said “it was rockin.” But for 10 p.m. in downtown on St. Patrick’s Day, it was quieter than he expected. Baldwin didn’t seem to mind.

“I wish it had been a bit warmer,” he said. “I don’t think the sleet and snow deterred the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day.”