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A (Mostly) Cliche-Free St. Paddy's Itinerary

Don't do the "college you" version of St. Paddy's day this year.

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What better way to commemorate Christianity’s arrival in Ireland and Irish heritage than by getting plastered with your besties while sporting green face paint and a leprechaun hat? Technically you could become an unflattering stereotype on St. Patrick’s Day, but why not up your game? Enough with the sophomoric green beer, the obligatory corned beef and cabbage, and the most egregious offender – the sloppy friend who doesn’t know their limits. Granted we’ve all done this, but maybe it’s time for something new this year.

Instead, think weekend-long events like block parties around the city, free March Madness practice viewings, a special WaterFire, St. Paddy’s 5Ks, caches of Irish literature and month-long Irish history exhibits, just to name a few. Forget amateur hour and up your game this month by learning a little bit more of the history behind it, and the people it represents.

Prep For Game Day

During the week of St. Paddy’s Day, Providence is getting in on the March Madness action by hosting some NCAA Men’s Division 1 Basketball games. For the uninitiated, the tournament pits 68 college teams against each other in single elimination challenges, and Providence is hosting games on March 17 and 19 at The Dunk (1 La Salle Square. 331-6700, DunkinDonutsCenter.com). However, on March 16 anyone can stop by and watch team practice for free.
During the practices and games, no drinking is allowed inside The Dunk, which means that when the fans egress onto the streets, they will be thirsty.

Neighborhood restaurants and bars are planning on blocking off some streets for neighborhood block parties after the games. Looks like you should come hungry and thirsty (GoProvidence.com).

On March 18, plan on staying in the city and enjoy a Slam Dunk WaterFire (WaterFire.org) in honor of March Madness. Stroll around Waterplace Park, take in the surroundings and stop by little Dunkin’ Donuts popups scattered throughout.

5K Your Heart Out
For the exercise inclined, there are active ways to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day. Starting in Pawtucket on March 5, the Guinness Tour de Patrick (TourDePatrick.comkicks off its three-part race series with the Guinness 5K (11am. Pawtucket City Hall, 137 Roosevelt Avenue, Pawtucket). Then on March 19, the Guinness St. Pat’s 5K returns to the State House (11am. 82 Smith Street). Finally, the Tour de Patrick concludes with the Guinness Shamrock Shuffle 5K on March 26 in North Kingstown (10am. North Kingstown High School, 150 Fairway Drive, North Kingstown).

Stories of the Irish
Sure, downing a Guinness can make you feel Irish for a day, but what if you had the chance to dive into Irish culture and understand the people behind the holiday? Well, you can at Providence Public Library (150 Empire Street. 455-8000, ProvLib.com). The library houses The George W. Potter and Alfred M. Williams Memorial Collection on Irish Culture. The collection is rich with Irish poetry, specifically of the late 19th century, and Irish broadside ballads of the same period.

All the Parades
The nice thing about the St. Patrick’s Day parades this year is that they fall on different Saturdays. Expect to enjoy marching bands, fife and drum corps, historical reenactors, police and fire units, boy scouts and girl scouts (you get the idea) on Saturdays throughout the month. Begin in Pawtucket on March 5 for their parade at 12pm. Starting at Jenks Junior High School and ending at Pawtucket City Hall, make sure to catch the after party at the Pawtucket Armory starting around 1pm (Facebook.com/PawtucketstPatsParade).

Then, head to Newport for their 60th Annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, rain or shine, on March 12. Festivities begin at 11am at Newport City Hall and proceeds to Saint Augustine’s Church on Carroll Avenue (NewportIrish.com). Finally, on March 19 the Providence parade kicks into high gear at 12pm on the steps of the State House and winds its way through downtown (ProvidenceStPatricksParade.org).

Celebrate Irish History All Month
Did you know that March is Newport Irish Heritage Month? The Museum of Newport Irish History (648 Lower Thames Street, Newport. 847-7201, NewportIrishHistory.org) is the perfect place to learn about the Irish immigration to Newport County from the 1600s and the impact it’s had on the present day community. The museum also offers the opportunity to see what contributions Irish descendants made to the local community. 

Stop by the exhibits at the Interpretive Center to check out maps, videos, artifacts and photographs that center on life in the current Irish community. There are even photos of the construction of Fort Adams, which was built with Irish immigration labor.

Keep it 100 at Breakfast
If you haven’t had yourself a proper Irish breakfast, now’s the time. In pretty much any corner of the state you can find a place to get bangers, beans, brown or soda bread, eggs, tomatoes, piles of meat, etc. If you’re in the Providence area, head to Murphy’s Law (2 George Street, Pawtucket. 724-5522, MurphysLawRI.com) for their Full Irish Breakfast with two eggs, two pieces of Irish bacon, black and white pudding, fried tomatoes and mushrooms, and beans and toast. In the South County? No problem. Check out Kelley’s Deli (116 Granite Street, Westerly. 596-9896, KelleysDeliRI.com) for their version of an Irish Breakfast with two eggs any style with Irish bangers, Irish potato cakes and toast. If you’re going to be in Newport for the parade, you might as well start the day with Seamus’ Irish Breakfast at Buskers Pub (178 Thames Street, Newport. 846-5856, BuskersPub.com). It’s got eggs, rashers, bangers, black and white pudding, Irish baked beans and a grilled tomato.