Freestyle: Good times roll through St. Paddy’s Day

Feb. 21, 2014 | 0 Comments
Irish pride knows no bounds during the St. Patrick's Day Parade through Waikiki. The parade's coming up again on March 17. (Star-Advertiser photo)

Irish pride knows no bounds during the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade through Waikiki. The parade returns on March 17. (Star-Advertiser File)


It’s party time: Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day are right around the corner. While mid-winter celebrations are meant to stave off the gloom of short days and bad weather, these events signal the approach of spring and high spirits in full bloom. Here are some suggestions to get in on the action.

After a dance party with Louisiana zydeco stalwarts Buckwheat Zydeco and C.J. Chenier on Thursday, Mardi Gras season continues to roll out the good times with the Mardi Gras Ball, from 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday at Manifest, 32 N. Hotel St. It’s a party to lead into Mardi Gras Carnaval, the street festival in Chinatown on Fat Tuesday, March 4.

New perks for Mardi Gras Ball patrons have been revealed: When you buy $20 tickets, you’ll get a bonus — make that two. A Carnival Club Crawl wristband will be provided to each person who purchases a Mardi Gras Ball ticket, providing access to all street bars at Mardi Gras Carnaval and all participating clubs. Also, everyone who purchases a Mardi Gras Ball ticket will receive access to a VIP room during Carnaval from 7 to 9 p.m. at Loading Zone Arts, 47 N. Hotel St.

Loading Zone is a second floor gallery and performance space, with windows providing a view of Hotel Street and the Rio Sambadrome stage. A VIP pass and wristband will be mailed out a week before “Carnaval.”

Buy tickets for the Mardi Gras Ball here; find out more about Mardi Gras Carnaval here.

The Doolin Rakes, shown here at the St. Patrick's Day Block Party in 2013, return to the street stage this year. (Honolulu Pulse photo)

Doolin’ Rakes, shown here at the St. Patrick’s Day block party in 2013, return to the street stage this year. (Star-Advertiser File)

PLAN EARLY for St. Patrick’s Day: There are just 13 days between Mardi Gras on March 4 and St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 — and that’s a Monday, by the way. We heard from Bill Comerford, chairman of the board and promotions chair for the Friends of Saint Patrick, a group that coordinates St. Patrick’s Day-related events in Honolulu, and you won’t get that long to rest if you take part in everything that’s offered.

On March 8, it’s the Friends of Saint Patrick Emerald Ball, an annual dinner event with an Irish menu and entertainment by Celtic piper Dan Quinn, Celtic harp by Helen Loftus, Celtic Waves, Hawaii Irish Dance, and balladeer Kieran Murphy.

Some people really get into the wearin' of the green. (Honolulu Pulse photo)

Some people really get into the wearin’ of the green. (Star-Advertiser File)

The event takes place at 5 p.m. at the Japanese Cultural Center’s Manoa Grand Ballroom, 2454 South Beretania St. Past St. Patrick’s Day parade chairman Chuck Wall will be presented with the Irish Person of the Year Award.

Tickets are $75 per person; make reservations by March 1 by contacting Comerford at (808) 223-3997 or via email at

On March 12, check out the “Guinness Toast” finals at O’Toole’s Irish Pub, 902 Nuuanu Ave., starting at 7 p.m.

Beginning on Sept. 17 every year (“halfway to St Patrick’s Day”), O’Toole’s hosts a monthly Guinness Toast Contest, culminating with the finals in March. Raise a glass along with the long-winded contestants and see who wins a trip for two to Las Vegas.

March 17 brings the big finale, Saint Patrick’s Day, when all join in admiring Irish resiliance, Irish music, Irish food and Irish whiskey, along with green beer, oysters and anything else that goes well with whiskey, music and green beer.

The 47th Annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, sponsored by the Friends of St. Patrick, is set to take place at noon March 17 along Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki. The route begins on Kalakaua fronting Fort DeRussy and ends at Kapiolani Park by the bandstand around 1:30 p.m.

If you’re interested in marching or participating in the parade, contact Comerford at 223-3997 or Nelson Lampert at (808) 722-2698. Find more parade information at the Friends of St. Patrick website.

Maybe they should call it the "St. Patrick's Day Massive." Honolulu's party people turn out in force for the annual March block party. (Honolulu Pulse photo)

Maybe they should call it the “St. Patrick’s Day Massive.” Honolulu’s party people turn out in force for the annual March block party. (Star-Advertiser File)

Comerford, by the way, also owns and operates three of Honolulu’s Irish bars (well, four if you count Anna O’Brien’s in Moiliili, but Anna’s has never really stopped being a classic rock ‘n’ roll dive): O’Toole’s Irish Pub in Chinatown and the Irish Rose Saloon and Kelley O’Neil’s, both in Waikiki.

Following the parade, Kelley O’Neil’s, 311 Lewers St., will offer live Irish music and an Irish menu beginning at 1 p.m. The Irish Rose, 478 Ena Rd. will offer Irish music. Anna’s will host an outdoor party featuring green (and other) beer, with live Irish music upstairs from 1 to 7 p.m.

Downtown, the St. Patrick’s Day Block Party returns, billed as “the last place on the planet (this side of the dateline) to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.”

Murphy’s Bar and Grill, 2 Merchant St., begins its party in the pub and the parking lot at the corner of Nuuanu Ave. and Nimitz Hwy., with food served outdoors that includes corned beef and a Guinness oyster bar. Food service starts at 11 a.m.

The block party itself starts at 5:30 p.m., and streets will be closed to traffic on Nuuanu Avenue, Merchant Street and Marin Lane. This will be Murphy’s 27th year sponsoring the St. Patrick’s Day block party, which the brewers of Guinness labeled “the single biggest St. Patrick’s Day party any one bar throws in the United States.”

Live music will include the Doolin’ Rakes and Elephant on the streets, with music inside at O’Toole’s. Last year, this attracted an enormous, good-natured crowd, so plan accordingly.

Other participating Irish pubs nearby are J.J. Dolan’s at 1147 Bethel St. and Ferguson’s Irish Pub at 729 Bishop St.

Elizabeth Kieszkowski is editor of TGIF, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s weekly arts and entertainment section. Reach her via email at or follow her on Twitter.

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