Francisca Benitez

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up on Sunday, making it the perfect time to examine the holiday’s origin and find out what you can do locally to celebrate this weekend.

According to History.com, St. Patrick’s Day is the celebration of the anniversary of St. Patrick’s death on March 17, 461. St. Patrick is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland.

People would attend church in the morning and celebrate in the evening by drinking and dancing and feasting on traditional Irish cuisine. The holiday has long been recognized all over the world. In La Grande, there are a few events on Saturday to celebrate.

Revelers can start the day with a charitable and healthy cause. The annual Shamrock Shuffle is a run that benefits United Way of Eastern Oregon. Participants will be able to choose between a 5K and a 10K run. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students, children and seniors. Children younger than 5 can attend for free. Participants should meet at the Eastern Oregon Quinn Colliseum at 8 a.m. to register.

Ten Depot’s annual St. Patrick’s Day party will also be on Saturday. The menu features corned beef, cabbage, soda bread and red potatoes as well as Irish whiskey and Guinness. There will be live Irish music. The party will be from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Those looking for more drinks than dinner can go to the annual pub crawl hosted by La Grande Mainstreet Downtown. Stops included in the crawl are Ten Depot, The Longbranch, Benchwarmers, Side A Brewing, American Legion, JSD, The Hideout, Moy’s, Cinco de Mayo and Bud Jackson’s. Participants can ride the trolley for free to different locations between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. From 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., Loveland’s Safe Ride program will give free rides home.

A $10 lanyard, which can be purchased at any of the participating bars, grants admission to the crawl and access to drink specials.

Although the annual pub crawl used to be St. Patrick’s Day themed, it is no longer officially related to the holiday. According to a representative from La Grande Mainstreet Downtown, this is because some people took issue with associating the holiday with drinking.

This complaint isn’t a new one. In a 2015 opinion article in The New York Post, writer Tim Donnelly said binge drinking isn’t an appropriate way to celebrate cultural holidays.

“I’m all for drinking (all times of the year). Just don’t kid yourself thinking you’re ‘celebrating’ these holidays with a ... bar crawl — you’re just getting drunk,” he wrote.

He suggested parades, musical performances and themed dinners are more respectful ways to celebrate.

The association of St. Patrick’s Day with binge drinking might have a dark history as well. History.com notes in the late 1840s, when there was an influx of Irish immigrants to the U.S., newspapers portrayed Irish people in cartoons celebrating the holiday as “drunk, violent monkeys.”

It was because of these concerns that LGMSD redefined the annual pub crawl. The intent of the event remains the same: to encourage people to come downtown and support local businesses.

Contact Francisca Benitez at 541-963-3161 or email fbenitez@lagrandeobserver.com .

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