SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- St. Patrick's Day celebrations will take place on Thursday in San Francisco for the first time since 2019. March 17 has become one of the biggest party days of the year, But. it has not been celebrated publicly for three years here in California and San Francisco because of past COVID restrictions. Block parties and pub crawls are back this year in the city.
On Wednesday, we saw green pants, green shirts, and lots of people out in the city who were drinking quite a bit of beer. A sign that St. Patrick's Day is upon us.
"I think people are overdue for a party," said bar patron Regina O'Connor.
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Yes, those in San Francisco came close to an Irish party back in 2020 but in the 24 to 48 hours before St. Patrick's Day, California state COVID restrictions closed bars and limited gatherings. During ABC7 News reporter J.R. Stone's 2020 live shot on St. Patrick's Day, he showed a Polk Street bar that was boarded up and closed.
"I remember that week very vividly and again just that scaling back, just having to say, 'hey sorry guys, hey sorry guys, hey sorry guys'," said Brian Martin. Martin manages the San Francisco bar called The Irish Bank. Their 2020 block party on Mark Lane and Harian Place never happened but on Thursday night, St. Patrick's Day, two years later, it will. According to Martin, the Wednesday night crowd we saw, both outside and inside, is the biggest they've seen since before the pandemic.
"I feel like I'm feeling more normal about going out now that the mask mandate is gone," said bar patron Reghan Goldberg.
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"I see already this is the day before St. Patrick's Day, and it's starting to look like it will be a good St. Patrick's Day," said O'Connor.
There are actually multiple St. Patrick's Day block parties in San Francisco this year. The block from Sacramento to California on Front Street near The Royal Exchange and Schroeder's will be closed for traffic and open to drinkers. Something not seen since 2019.
"This is probably the most beer we have in the restaurant since before COVID started and we're ready to give it away. Well not give it away, but sell it all definitely. Please come down and drink our beer," said Andrew Mott of The Royal Exchange as we joked about all the preparations to get ready for St. Patrick's Day.
Mott says they survived the pandemic, even as their neighbors at Harrington's shutdown. He says foot traffic is up, lunch patrons are coming in more often, and happy hour drinking is again gaining popularity.
"Very resilient you know, just keeping the business going, we've got a group of people that love our restaurant that have supported us to keep us going during these tough times, and I think we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Mott.