If you're reading this, you've made it through the annual slopfest that's the Scranton St. Patrick's Parade – congratulations! Now, here's the real challenge: are you ready to do it all over again?
For the past several years, the Wilkes-Barre St. Patrick's Parade has fallen on the Sunday immediately after the Scranton celebration, making it a little tough for those who utilize such events for drinking to do just that. (Not to knock the actual parades themselves, as they are pretty spectacular and an honored tradition.)
This year, things have changed with the movement of the Wilkes-Barre parade to an entirely different weekend, allowing Patty's partygoers to celebrate two Saturdays in a row, and it's even closer to the actual holiday than normal.
-Sara Pokorny, Weekender Staff Writer
If there is one thing Northeast Pa. loves, it's a parade.
Scranton's St. Patrick's Parade is one of the largest in the country, but Wilkes-Barre has also provided locals with another opportunity to celebrate their Irish heritage and party all day for the last 32 years. This year, coordinators moved the festivities from the Sunday after Scranton's to the following Saturday, March 16, causing no direct competition while saving the city money.
“This year, the move was made from Sunday back to Saturday mainly because of how St. Patrick's Day fell. We could have a parade on the following Saturday without missing the holiday, and mainly for financial reasons, it was cheaper for us to have the parade on Saturday and pay time-and-a-half rates versus double-time rates for police, (emergency services), (Department of Public Works), and other governmental personnel needed to pull off the event,” Drew McLaughlin, administrative coordinator for the city of Wilkes-Barre, explained.
“It costs tens of thousands of dollars to put on the St. Patrick's Day Parade. It has enormous economic benefits to the city; it has great benefits in terms of showcasing the city for the community as a whole, but there is a cost associated with it, and currently, every community is struggling financially.”
McLaughlin credits Special Events Coordinator Lore Majikes, a “one-person show,” for taking on this monumental task, which includes months of planning that starts as early as the fall, registering entertainment, closing streets, organizing security, and the “heaviest” chore – soliciting sponsorships from area organizations and private businesses to raise the necessary capital.
“It's a colossal logistical enterprise, but it's a well-tuned machine at this point. It's our 33rd annual parade; it's the ninth or tenth parade since Mayor (Thomas) Leighton has been in office with this staff handling it. It's a lot of work, but it's well-conditioned all at the same time,” he said.
The parade begins at 2 p.m., starting at the intersection of South Main and South Streets, continuing down South Main to Public Square, past the F.M. Kirby Center, and ending at the intersection of North Main and Union Streets.
While having a few pints will always be a part of any St. Patrick's Day celebration, McLaughlin said Wilkes-Barre focuses on creating a more kid-friendly, family-oriented atmosphere, and this year's activities reflect that. Following the 9 a.m. kickoff of the Second Annual Renal Race, which benefits kidney cancer research, story time will be held at 11 a.m. at the Barnes & Noble (7 S. Main St.), and children can receive Just Plain Crazy Face Art starting at noon on Public Square (for $5 per child).
The Hooley Boys will play Irish Folk music at 1 p.m. at the reviewing stand, and entertainment throughout the day includes Three Imaginary Boys, the Wyoming Valley Pipe & Drum Band; the Coughlin, G.A.R. and E.L. Meyers marching bands; the Avalon String Band, the Kerry Dancers, the Scoil Rince na Connemara dancers, the David Blight School of Dance, and more.
One new attraction on Public Square will be a restored Stegmaier beer delivery truck from 1938 provided by The Lion Brewery; the brewery's Lion will join other mascots in attendance, like Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' Tux and the Phillie Phanatic.
McLaughlin said the city generally attracts around 20,000 people, but with this year's parade being held on a Saturday, they expect attendance to be even higher this year.
“I grew up in Philadelphia, so it's always a treat to have the Phillie Phanatic come to Wilkes-Barre. The kids usually get a big kick out of it, so that's always a personal favorite of mine,” he shared.
“It's a big day for all; it's a long day, so we'll have a lot of people in the city starting in the early morning going into the night.”
-Rich Howells, Weekender Editor
Some breakfast with your beer
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not pair it with some booze to make it that much better?
“Kegs and eggs” is an early morning practice that spans many locations and events besides St. Patty's Day, a time when it's perfectly acceptable to be up at 7 a.m. with a beer in hand and fork full of scrambled eggs in the other.
It's a tradition for Beer Boys (176 N. Washington St., Wilkes-Barre), which has been feeding the early rising masses since 2000. The free breakfast begins at 7 a.m., accompanied by beer specials, and, yes, it's exactly what you would expect.
“We really do put eggs out,” said Beer Boys owner Ryan Zych with a laugh. “People ask if there are really eggs and, I promise you, there are, along with some other breakfast favorites.”
Zych can remember a time when the parades weren't back-to-back, and he is excited to return to it.
“It was difficult to continue the tradition with kegs and eggs when the parade was on Sunday, but we always kept it alive somehow.”
“I'm thrilled to death that they moved it back to Saturday and opposite Scranton. For those that woke up with a vicious hangover and a light wallet after Scranton, well, it gives them a week to prepare for what I've heard everyone calling 'Round Two.'”
A hearty meal is the perfect way to start the second bout.
“It's become something that people ask for and look forward to,” Zych said, “and we do, too. It kicks off the festivities. We want people to come on in and eat and have a good time.”
-Sara Pokorny, Weekender Staff Writer
Keeping the beat
So, 19 men and women walk into a bar, all wearing kilts, playing Irish and Scottish music on bagpipes and marching drums…
Just kidding. But, the Wyoming Valley Pipe & Drum Band is no joke. The group formed about four years ago with one mission in mind: bringing traditional Irish and Scottish music to the heart of Luzerne County, and, of course, having a bloody good time while doing it.
After playing the Saint Patrick's Parade in Scranton this past Saturday, the band will have a week to recuperate before they march in the Wilkes-Barre parade on March 16, a tradition for the past four years.
Since forming, they have kept all of the original members, including some firemen, policemen, and blue collar workers. In a recent interview with The Weekender, Butch Modzelewski, a bagpipe player in the band, talked about the incredible feeling he gets when marching in the parades.
“Its exciting because you've got all those people out there cheering you on. People love the bagpipe bands. It's like you're in the Indy 500. You're marching down the street with all those kids and grown-ups and they're loving it. It sends a chill up you.”
Along with parades, the band plays at many different types of events, including weddings, funerals, parties, and even ice rinks during hockey games.
Practicing each week for the entire year ensures that the group is up to par when performing their songs. When parades come to town, they even have extra practices for marching.
“You have to practice, and you have to keep up with your songs. If you didn't practice, you wouldn't be good enough,” Modzelewski said.
Barhopping is something that has become a tradition for the Wyoming Valley natives. In addition to each parade they play, they also hit five to seven bars before and after the festivities. Playing one-hour sets at each bar, the group provides many opportunities for people to come out and celebrate with them.
This year, the group will be hitting several spots in Wilkes-Barre after the parade, including the Susquehanna Ale House (10 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre), Senunas' Bar & Grill (133 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre), Kelsey's Restaurant (1 N. Main St., Ashley), The Riverside Café (187 Old River Rd., Wilkes-Barre), Cork Bar and Restaurant (463 Madison St., Wilkes-Barre), and Two G's Restaurant (3381 Bear Creek Blvd., Bear Creek Twp.). The rest of their schedule can be found at wyomingvalleypipeanddrum.com.
“We're a street band. We go out and have fun,” Modzelewski emphasized. “We love playing in the Scranton parade, and we love playing in the Wilkes-Barre parade.”
-Karyn Montigney, Weekender Intern
Beat the booze blues
Many of us are all too familiar with the combined symptoms of a pounding head, sore muscles, and the feeling of an empty stomach. It's a hangover, and it sucks.
If you're still suffering from last weekend's celebration (really, have you been drinking all this time?) or are looking for a way to make the day after the Wilkes-Barre parade as pleasant as possible, you're going to want to take a look at some of these hangover cures, many of which have been suggested to us by our readers.
- Water. It's honestly that simple. You can go about this by chugging a glass or two before bed, downing it during the day of your hangover, or, if you're smart and disciplined, alternating your booze with water as you drink. Dehydration is the root of all evil hangovers, so hydrating as much as possible is guaranteed to make you feel better.
- “Vitamin B, water, and pickles.” –Matt Mang, Scranton. Pickles might sound strange, but they could help. Pickle juice is pretty much vinegar, water, and sodium, the latter of which is an electrolyte that's generally lost during excessive drinking and constant bathroom breaks, which leads to dehydration. Chugging some pickle juice and chomping on dills are a way to alleviate hangover pain.
- “Best trick I ever learned was to drink two glasses of Pedialyte before bed along with two Aleve and a glass of water in the morning.” –Keith Gilligan, Wyoming. Another odd one but, yes, this cure actually works to lessen the horrible day-after-drinking feeling. Again, this is because it's designed to combat dehydration, which is the reason you feel so horrible after downing so much booze.
- Exercise. We know, we know, the last thing you want to do is get off the couch, but we promise you that if you do, you'll feel a little bit better. We're not saying to go full P90X here – just take a walk. Alcohol is a depressant, slowing brain activity and the release of endorphins, hormones that make you feel better. Moving your body will help release these hormones, giving you a sunnier outlook on that hangover gloom.
- “Dump a pack of brewer's yeast (Vitamin B12) in a bottle of Gatorade and chug it down before bed.” –Chuck Yarmey, Wyoming. Vitamin B is a wonderful way to combat the effects of drinking, no matter what form you take it in. Most say to do this prior to the start of chugging competitions, though, so you've got to think ahead on this one.
-Sara Pokorny, Weekender Staff Writer
Wilkes-Barre watering holes
There are plenty of places along the parade route and the surrounding area that will be open the day of the parade, and we've got a list for you.
- Arena Bar & Grill, 380 Coal St., Wilkes-Barre
- Bart and Urby's, 119 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre
- Beer Boys, 176 N. Washington St., Wilkes-Barre
- Bottlenecks Saloon and Eatery, 3 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre
- Carey's Pub, 147 Division St., Kingston
- Donahue's Hourglass Bar, 215 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre
- Frog Pond Pub & Pizzeria, 131 Coal St., Wilkes-Barre
- Hops & Barleys, 131 Main St., Luzerne
- Keats Pub, 115 Bowman St., Wilkes-Barre
- Liam's Place, 760 N. Washington St., Wilkes-Barre
- O'Sullivan's Pub, 41 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre
- The Oasis Grill at the Ramada Inn, 20 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
- Outsiders Saloon, 650 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre
- Overpour: 380 Coal St., Wilkes-Barre
- El Rincon Latino, 69 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre
- River Grille, 670 N. River St., Plains
- The Riverside Café, 187 Old River Road, Wilkes-Barre
- River Street Jazz Café, 667 N. River St., Plains
- Rodano's, 53 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
- Senunas' Bar & Grill, 133 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre
- Stan's Café, 107 Hillside St., Wilkes-Barre
- Susquehanna Ale House and Hardware Bar, 12 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre
- Uptown II, 215 N. River St., Wilkes-Barre
- Vesuvio's Pizzeria and Ristorante, 111 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre
Download the Weekender Parade Day App
Available in the Apple App Store and the Android Marketplace, The Weekender's St. Patrick's Parade App provides everything you need for a safe and fun holiday.
- A full listing of events at local bars
- An “around me” function that gives access to food and events listings as well as emergency services
- One-touch access to call a cab
- Links to social media pages of local hot spots
- The ability to upload pictures to the social media pages of your location as well as your own Facebook and Twitter
- Photo galleries
- A tip calculator
- A car finder
- A full list of drinks specials
- Access to discounts and exclusive offers