St. Patrick’s Day

Prepare to be pinched

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Know this: If I see you on St. Patrick’s Day and you’re not wearing green, I will pinch you.

I issue this warning to stem the tide of indignation that has flowed my way in recent years when I have visited this custom on the unsuspecting. After all, this is not some secret tradition, known and acted upon by only a few. Rather the pinching of the sans-green sect dates back to the 1700s. Does it really matter that the pinching, like so many things associated with this holiday, originated in the United States, not Ireland? Or that we pinch in order to remind the green-abstainers that if a leprechaun were to come along (could happen), he would do the same?

Like many traditional behaviors, this one makes little sense when examined closely. Which is why I prefer to pinch first and think about it never.

But pinching isn’t the only custom associated with St. Patrick’s Day. Indeed, the occasion involves a whole host of habits—green beer, shots of Jameson, corned beef, loss of dignity—and as is so often the case in Bellingham, if you’d like to partake in revelry, you don’t have to try very hard to find a party. Here are just a few of your options.

Boundary Bay Brewery: At this point, if you don’t know that Boundary is nutty for St. Patrick’s Day, you probably haven’t lived here very long. Bellingham’s original brewpub might not have invented St. Patrick’s Day, but Janet Lightner (Boundary general manager, part-time leprechaun) founded a Bellingham parade in its honor. The event pays homage both to St. Pat and Bellingham’s public safety personnel, fulfilling Lightner’s mission to contribute to her community and have fun doing so. Post-parade festivities will happen at the brewery, with Irish music, dancing by the Penk O’Donnell school, one of the tastiest Irish-themed menus in town (I speak from experience on this point) and pint after pint of Boundary’s potent beer. The party resumes on St. Pat’s proper, Thurs., March 17, and it’s an all-day affair featuring a full Irish menu, the return of the dancers, the yearly appearance of Robert Sarazin Blake’s elusive Paddywhackers, as well as music by Peadar Macmahon, Jan Peters, the Porch Lights, and more. Where: 1107 Railroad Ave. Info:

Glow Nightclub: The last time I was at Glow, I was wearing sequin pants and I drank a pink shot (it was that kind of night). A couple of nights after that, a Tyrannosaurus rex showed up and joined the dance party (it should always be that kind of night). None of this is particularly surprising—but it is all representative of the random delights to be found at the downtown nightclub. For St. Patrick’s Day, Glow is cutting the corned beef and cabbage right out of the equation, and getting down to what defines this holiday: drink specials. Green beer and green Jell-O shots are on the menu, as are shots of Jameson, and they’re priced to sell. The soundtrack will be provided by DJs J-Will, Gray Matter, and Shadow Variable. Sequin pants and T-rex costume are optional, but highly recommended. Where: 202 E. Holly St. Info:

Kulshan Brewery: Downtown Bellingham gets a lot of the St. Patrick’s Day action, but Sunnyland will do its share of celebrating too, thanks to Kulshan Brewery. The warm-up to the big day begins Sat., March 12 with the McLaughlin Irish Dancers, who will entertain the beer-quaffing crowd with their fancy footwork. Kulshan favorites the Devilly Brothers will play a show on Thurs., March 17, and what they lack in intricate dance routines, they’ll make up for in holiday-themed music. Get a friendly Kulshan beertender to pull you a pint and prepare to belt out some drinking songs. St. Pat would be proud. Where: 2238 James St. Info:

Mount Baker Theatre: Green beer and raucous parties are all well and good, but if you’re looking for a more civilized good time, the Mount Baker Theatre is getting in on St. Patrick’s Day in a big way. Solas, groundbreaking Irish-American band, is celebrating their 20th anniversary year—and they’ll spend this very special St. Patrick’s Day playing a show for us. Call it the luck of the Irish, chalk it up to that four-leaf clover you found—however you choose to characterize the twist of fate that routed one of the most popular and influential Celtic bands in existence our way on March 17, it’s going to make for an unforgettable show. Tickets range from $20-$39 and are somehow still available, so procure yours and get ready to Erin go Bragh. Where: 104 N. Commercial St. Info:

Skylarks Hidden Cafe: For many years, Skylarks has been the Southside’s St. Patrick’s Day bastion, hosting a party that comes complete with a directive to wear green (see, I’m not the only one). Said party also comes with Jameson whiskey on special, Guinness on tap and corned beef and cabbage Skylarks claims is Bellingham’s best (I’ll happily be the judge of that). And since music is always on the menu at the Southside staple, Leaps & Bounds will be on hand to provide you with a with songs that will transport you straight to the Emerald Isle. Where: 1308 11th St. Info:

Uisce Irish Pub: It is only proper to round out this roundup with Bellingham’s only proper Irish bar, Uisce. The charming bar with its nattily attired staff of expert bartenders always goes all out on St. Patrick’s Day, but this year the occasion also doubles as Uisce’s 10-year anniversary party. Certainly congratulations are in order for the pub and its milestone, and in typical Bellingham fashion, Uisce is celebrating its birthday by throwing us a bash. Music is a must, and it will be provided by a stacked lineup that includes Peadar Macmahon, Gallowglass, the Devilly Brothers, and more. Commemorate the occasion—and then help usher Uisce into its next decade in the manner it deserves. Where: 1319 Commercial St. Info:

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