Halifax bar owners offer safety tips for St. Patrick’s Day

Bars and police are preparing for St. Patrick’s Day, even if it is on a Monday.

By Sean Mott

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Bar owners recommend moderate drinking on St. Patrick’s Day. (Sean Mott/Peninsula News)

Mike Tucker plans on celebrating St. Patrick’s Day bright and early Monday morning.

The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse on Prince Street is offering a traditional Irish breakfast with beer. Tucker plans on going there with a group of friends.

While it may seem early, Tucker, a New Brunswick student with Irish heritage, sees it as a cornerstone of his culture.

“It’s a tradition,” he says. “It’s about embracing that Irish aspect of our culture and our lives and sharing it with friends.”

Mike Tucker explains his plans for St. Patrick’s Day: (runs: 45 sec.)

Thomas Goessaert, whose birthday falls on March 17, views the event as a giant party.

“I’ve always partied with everybody on St. Patrick’s Day,” he says. “[My] birthday doesn’t become a special event anymore. Everybody just enjoys themselves.”

Goessaert plans on partying with friends at his house but if he does go out, he’ll head to the bars downtown.

Bars prepare

Bars prepare for St. Patrick’s Day in advance, as it’s usually one of the busiest and most profitable nights of the year. Many open as early as 7 a.m., which requires permission from the Alcohol and Gaming Division of Nova Scotia.

Fickle Frog, a bar on Spring Garden Road, usually opens at 10 a.m. but will be open at 7 a.m. on Monday. Fickle Frog is using extra staff for Monday, bringing on four bartenders and a facilitator, who ensures that food and drinks get promptly delivered.

“I’m hoping it’s a good day,” says Alan Gordon, the general manager of the bar.

Because St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Monday, Fickle Frog and other bars will be busy for what is usually a slow night, says Gordon.

In preparation for the busy night, Gordon has instructed his staff to be extra cautious and vigilant, especially because Fickle Frog is close to several universities.

“You always have to thoroughly check IDs,” he says. “The staff will be on alert.”

Gordon says that there are not as many rowdy individuals as one would expect on St. Patrick’s Day because they attract more 30-year-olds than 20-year-olds.

Whenever there is a problem, the staff has been instructed to immediately call the police.

“There are more [police] out so we let them do their thing,” Gordon says. “They do an excellent job.”

The police presence

Const. Pierre Bourdages, spokesman for the Halifax Regional Police, says extra officers are not needed for St. Patrick’s Day, however, many officers will be relocated to busy areas like universities and bars. He also says there are less disturbance calls for celebrations that fall on a weekday as opposed to weekends.

Bourdages says the goal of an added police presence is to ensure everyone stays safe and understands the law.

“We want to make sure people have a good time,” he says.

Shane Robilliard, the general manager of the Rockbottom and Your Father’s Moustache bars on Spring Garden Road, prefers to handle things on his own.

“We have extra training to ensure that a day like this goes as well as it can,” he says. “We are fortunate in regards to rowdy guests. We rarely have any issues and they are normally handled by me and the team.”

Robilliard is bringing in three extra staff members for Rockbottom and seven extra members for Your Father’s Moustache for Monday. He says because St. Patrick’s Day can encourage overconsumption of alcohol, his staff is not to over-serve customers.

Safety first

Robilliard recommends that everyone who goes out for St. Patrick’s Day stay safe.

“The best way to have a great time is to keep your consumption at a moderate level and stay happy,” he says.

Kevin Brown, a university student who plans on heading downtown, will be taking the bus and travelling in a group.

“The buddy system always works well, especially at night when you could wander off,” he says.

Taking a few precautions is the best way to enjoy this St. Patrick’s Day.

Safety tips for St. Patrick’s Day

  • Plan ahead. Know when and where you’re going out and when you’re going home.
  • Moderate your drinking. Don’t binge drink.
  • Travel in groups or use the buddy system.
  • Take the bus.
  • Have fun.