The big St. Patrick’s Day bash on Ocean Boulevard won’t happen this year.
A “really slow offseason” this winter and the Ocean Boulevard road construction affected downtown business revenue and sponsorship levels for the annual festival that is organized by the Oceanfront Merchants Association, said Peggy Iverson, the association’s executive director.
Also, city council’s declining $2,800 for “in-kind services” for the association’s proposed single-day St. Pat’s festival, covering such functions as policing and cleanup, “only added to the challenge that we were facing to even raise enough money” to put on the fest, and made the association’s final decision “a little bit easier” overall, Iverson said.
Although the Oceanfront Merchants’ Association, already planning for summer events, will not have its yearly St. Pat’s downtown festival, two other big events are on tap this Saturday: the 28th annual North Myrtle Beach St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and the seventh annual Irish Fest, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. in Myrtle Beach’s Valor Memorial Garden, at The Market Common, both with free admission.
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There still will be some green-themed entertainment next weekend in the Ocean Boulevard area.
Bands will play free concerts, 6-9 p.m. March 18-19 in Plyler Park, Iverson said, and a “Get Your Green On” promotion goes March 17-20, with specials available from participating merchants in Myrtle Beach boardwalk -area that post green balloons outside their doors.
Iverson said the association, representing about 80 businesses, will step up its quest to promote the boardwalk area as a “family-friendly place to shop, eat and play,” especially in what she called Ocean Boulevard’s “super block,” between Mr. Joe White Avenue and Ninth Avenue North.
She also reiterated that the association’s ability to host its various events each year, including Christmastime weekends, could not happen without the Myrtle Beach city administration and council’s support, and their permission to use Plyler Park for free is a recognized gift and “in-kind service.”
Data gathered by Mark Kruea, city spokesman, show that city support for the association’s various events in the past three years has stayed strong , amounting to $1.08 million total, from city coffers and the Downtown Redevelopment Corp.
The merchants association will redirect energies toward spearheading the return of the Sun Fun Festival, June 3-5 –after a five-year hiatus – in Myrtle Beach’s Plyer Park, at Mr. Joe White Avenue at Ocean Boulevard, and continuing the boardwalk area’s “Hot Summer Nights” from June through August, Iverson said.
Pick a festival this Saturday
Those looking for a St. Patrick’s party this weekend still have several options.
North Myrtle Beach’s St. Patrick’s parade will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday on Main Street, then the festival goes until 4 p.m.
Tina Gerrald McCrackin, that city’s parks and recreation event and program director, said 114 units will make up the parade procession with grand marshal Trevor Strawderman, principal of North Myrtle Beach High School; the festival vendor count for arts and food reached a full load with 160; and live entertainment will span three stages along Main Street.
She said three pipe and drum corps are lined up to march and play afterward, two of which will give two concerts each.
“They really get you in the St. Patrick’s Day/Irish mood,” McCrackin said.
McCrackin said higher turnout is expected in light of the downtown Myrtle Beach event not happening, and for the shepherd’s pie eating contest, at 2:30 p.m., “everyone gets the same amount” to eat, “to see who can finish the fastest.”
Mike Shank, from Festival Promotions, which stages the Irish Fest at The Market Common among four seasonal Grand Strand soirees, said this St. Patrick’s Day-themed event “has been one of my best.”
He said despite the “unfortunate” circumstance of the Oceanfront Merchants Association canceling its festival, he is “optimistic that attendance will be higher” for Irish Fest and that some first-time vendors have signed on, because in past years, they could not set up for this event and downtown Myrtle Beach occurring simultaneously.
The 2016 Irish Fest’s timing for the weekend before – instead of after – St. Patrick’s Day also was decided a while back, Shank said, welcoming everyone to celebrate in the park, with something for everyone, including activities for children.
Contact Steve Palisin at 843-444-1764.
If you go – green, for St. Patrick’s Day
▪ 28th annual North Myrtle Beach St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival, Saturday on Main Street, with parade at 9 a.m., and festival 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. Also: contests for leprechauns (adults only) and shepherd’s pie eating at 2:15 and 2:30 p.m., respectively (Register for either by 1:30 p.m. at information booth at Hillside Drive or 2 p.m. near Flynn’s Irish Tavern, 421 Main St.). 843-280-5584, 843-280-5673 or parks.nmb.us/Page.aspx?id=14.
Scheduled entertainment, at Oak Drive, with Myrtle Beach Regional Pipe and Drum Band at 11 a.m. and 12:15 p.m., Triple Toe Cloggers 11:15 a.m., parade awards 11:45, Coastal Pipes and Drums 12:45 p.m., Ocean Drive Elementary School Chorus 1:30, and Folk ’Em 2:15-4 p.m.; near Flynn’s tavern, with Band on the Rum 11 a.m. and noon, Coastal Pipes and Drums 11:45 a.m., Wake District Pipes and Drums 12:45 p.m., and Tan and Sober Gentleman 1 and 2:45-4 p.m.; and near Duffy’s Seafood Shack, with Retrograde 11 a.m., and Chocolate Chip and Company 1:45-4 p.m.
▪ Seventh annual Irish Fest, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday in Myrtle Beach’s Valor Memorial Garden, on Farrow Parkway, at The Market Common. Free admission. 843-267-7443 or www.myrtlebeachbeerfest.com/irish-fest.html, and 843-839-3500 or www.marketcommonmb.com.
▪ “St. Pat’s Bonfire,” noon-5 p.m. Saturday at La Belle Amie Vineyard, 1120 St. Joseph Road, Little River, just west of North Myrtle Beach Middle School, with music 12:15-4:15 p.m. by The Stringwood Trio. $3, or free with donation of two canned/dry good items for food bank. 843-399-9463 or labelleamie.com.
▪ Briarcliff Saints Dixieland Band St. Patrick’s Day concert, 4 p.m. Monday at Horry County Memorial Library North Myrtle Beach branch, 910 First Ave. S. Free. 843-915-5281 or www.hcml.org.
▪ St. Patrick’s Day Feast, 4-6 p.m. Wednesday at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7288, 900 Carter Drive, Calabash, N.C. $11. 910-579-3577.
▪ Third annual St. Patrick’s Day Dinner veterans benefit, noon-4 p.m. March 17 at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10420, 4359 U.S. 17 Bypass S., Murrells Inlet. Meals $11 for corned beef, $10 shepherd’s pie, with takeout available. 843-651-6900.
▪ “Luck of the MarshWalk” costume contest, March 17 on MarshWalk, on U.S. 17 Business in Murrells Inlet, with event open 5 p.m. as participants collect colored coin from each tavern/restaurant to amass a rainbow of coins, and meet at 10 p.m. at pirate statue behind Drunken Jack’s for drawings. 843-299-1221 or www.marshwalk.com.
▪ Oceanfront Merchants Association’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend activities: Free concerts, 6-9 p.m. March 18-19 in Myrtle Beach’s Plyler Park, at Mr. Joe White Avenue at North Ocean Boulevard; and “Get Your Green On” promotion, March 17-20, with specials available from participating merchants in Myrtle Beach boardwalk -area that post green balloons outside their doors. 843-779-2662 (OMA) or www.myrtlebeachdowntown.com.