How to celebrate St. Patrick's day in Sarasota: live music and double-decker bus pulls

What began as a tribute to the patron saint of Ireland and grew into an all-out celebration of Irish culture has further evolved into a global holiday, celebrated with copious amounts of both cheesy toasts and green beer. Some cities paint their streets emerald or dye rivers and canals that same verdant hue, but Sarasota sticks to with simpler tributes including cabbage-eating competitions, loads of live local music and — of course — a double-decker bus pull.

Tomorrow, Novocollegians get to take a break from writing papers on Foucault and studying Chinese and head to one of the many various parties going on in the community.

At The Beach Club on Siesta Key, rock out to local AC/DC tribute band “Highway to Hell” while cramming your mouth with cabbage in the cabbage eating competition or prove your strength in the keg lift. For the truly robust, there will be a 26,000-pound double-decker bus pull — and for those whose talents may lie elsewhere, a team pint chug and keg stand competitions will also take place. After “Highway to Hell,” the Leonard Brothers will take the stage at 10 p.m. to round out the night as patrons enjoy $3 Guinness pints, $5 Irish Car Bombs, and $5 Jameson as they tipsily gaze out on the Gulf of Mexico.

For those who may prefer sipping craft beer to pounding frothing Irish Car Bombs, Mr. Beery’s in Gulf Gate is also holding a St. Patrick’s Day party. Mr. Beery’s is a bar entirely dedicated to craft beers, and will be featuring Patio Tools Stout from Cigar City Brewing Company in Tampa — a microbrew version of Guinness. Larry Crane, former guitarist for John Mellencamp and proclaimed co-creator of “heartland rock” will be playing at the bar starting at 6:30 p.m. If hunger sets in — or the 24 taps of craft beer get overwhelming— Ham Heaven and Devil Dogs are right next-door, ready to provide some hearty corned beef to complete the Irish experience.

Even grocery shopping gets Patty-fied with the St. Patty’s Spring Brews Fest at Whole Foods Market. Over 25 beers will be showcased throughout the store, paired with snacks to be munched on while listening to the Democracy Reggae Band. The beer and bites will also be accompanied by a performance by the Fuzion Dance Artists.

“Even a leprechaun couldn’t resist this gig…” the sponsors said. What’s more, the $10 ticket benefits the Whole Planet Foundation, a group supporting micro-financing efforts worldwide.

The Shamrock Pub on Ringling Boulevard is hosting its third annual St. Patrick’s Day Block Party, tenting off the alley behind the bar and setting up a stage and sound system for a ambitious party benefiting the YMCA youth shelter. While two acoustic musicians play inside the pub all day, six local bands will play outside from 4 p.m. onwards, performing a mix of their own music and rousing Irish covers. Libby’s will be catering the event, serving American dishes with an Irish flair like pulled pork with an Irish whiskey sauce. Chicago hot dogs and New York-style pizza will also be available. Cigar City is providing a peach Indian Pale Ale and there will be 8 other beers available on tap outside, complementing the 20 plus Irish beers served inside.

“Every Irish beer available, we’re bringing in,” bar manager Derek Anderson proudly stated. “Boston Bruisers” will also be served at the event, a terrifyingly named mix of Harpoon Celtic Ale and Guinness.

“It’s downtown’s best party for sure,” Anderson stated.

Though the sandy shores of Sarasota may be far from the green hills of Ireland, one can still celebrate the patron saint of Ireland tomorrow in a wide variety of ways, from chugging potent beverages on the beach to wandering the organic aisles of Whole Foods sipping craft beers and enjoying reggae or even munching on pulled pork and braving a Boston Bruiser at the Shamrock. As Anderson said of the food and music at his event: “Irish inspired, but not necessarily traditional.”

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