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Luck of the Irish great for Okinawa City

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2008-03-13

If Irish eyes were smiling on central Okinawa a year ago, all of Ireland is getting ready to smile this St. Patrick’s Day.

Okinawa City is to be THE happening place Saturday afternoon as bagpipes kick off the 2nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Park Avenue Parade. It’s a scene to be repeated elsewhere in Japan, where several cities have already tried their Irish luck, and others will do so either Sunday or a week from Saturday.

Here in Okinawa, though, everything will be coming up green as Paddy Mac’s Irish Pub joins with city leaders in creating a bigger, better St. Patrick’s Day Parade and celebration. As Martin McIntyre, Paddy Mac’s owner says, on St. Patrick’s Day Everyone Is Irish! With that as the standard, everyone is being invited to share an afternoon of live entertainment plus a parade.

The parade makes its way down B.C. Street beginning at 2 p.m., winding up just in time for the start of five hours of entertainment beginning at 3 p.m. The bagpiper leads the parade, with the III Marine Expeditionary Force Band piping in, along with The Islanders and multiple rounds of traditional Irish music. The Explode and Shima Gais also perform on the Main Stage in the Parking Lot Area. There’s clown show for the kids, a karate demonstration, a Japanese sword demonstration and a Shodo Exhibition.

McIntyre, who conjured up the holiday festivities idea a year ago and successfully sold it to the merchants surrounding his Paddy Mac’s Irish Pub, is again teamed with the city to draw attention—and tourists, shoppers and party revelers—to Okinawa City. Paddy Mac’s will operate a beer garden and food booth at the main stage, and will run the Irish Pub Saturday through Monday from noon until well, whenever.

Corned beef and cabbage will be served all three days at Paddy Mac’s, and all pints are going for ¥800. “We celebrated for years at Paddy Mac’s, and last year expanded our Irish exuberance to the community,” McIntyre says. “This year we’re again doing even more, because we want to celebrate together with all our Chuo Park Avenue neighbors.”

McIntyre, a native of Ireland who’s been calling Okinawa home for nearly a dozen years, says there’s to be plenty of authentic Irish food throughout the day Saturday. McIntyre, who handles cooking chores at Paddy Mac’s on a routine basis, will be serving up a bevy of dishes throughout the weekend, including traditional Irish beef stew and of course, corn beef and cabbage dinners. And, says the pub keeper, there’s to be a steady flow of Guinness and Kilkenny pints of beer available throughout the weekend.

The 17th Street St. Patrick’s Day Parade takes place Sunday in Tokyo, starting at 2 p.m. A week from Saturday, March 22nd, Sendai will welcome the Irish with its 3rd St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Yokohama, Kumamoto, Matsuo, Kyoto, Ise and Nagoya held their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and parades last weekend.

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