Downtown bars, restaurants prepare to see green from St. Patrick's Day street parties

The Blue Dome District is one of several areas in Tulsa set to go green when thousands of people descend upon local bars and restaurants for St. Patrick's Day celebrations. 


The city closed off several downtown streets Sunday so that crews could finish setting up all the street parties there. Bar and restaurant owners expect big crowds despite St. Patrick's Day falling on a work day this year. 


"I know it's on Monday," Chris Armstrong said, "but we're still going to put it all down like we always do."


Armstrong owns Arnie's Bar in downtown Tulsa, which has kept the tradition of partying on St. Patrick's Day alive for many years. 


"Arnie's Bar, this will be its 58th St. Patrick's Day," Armstrong said. "This will be our 14th (year) here downtown."


To prepare for the party, workers unloaded tables and tents onto the streets outside Arnie's Bar, which expects to serve thousands of people starting around 11 Monday morning. Armstrong said St. Patrick's Day is historically the best day for business of the year.


"We've been here for the last four days getting everything ready all day long, plus months of planning before that," he explained. "It takes a lot of work. A lot of people put in a lot of effort, but it's worth it."


Crews also finished constructing a large tent outside McNellie's on Sunday, another bar that marks a milestone this St. Patrick's Day.  


"We just had our tenth anniversary on March 11," general manager Scott Sipes said, "so we've been doing this--this will be the 11th St. Patrick's Day (party)."


While the restaurants and bars geared up for a busy day ahead, so did Tulsa police. Officers are teaming up with other state agencies to crack down on drunk driving this year. Police say they will keep a close eye on party goers particularly in the Blue Dome District, Cherry Street and Brookside. 


"We're partnering up with (Oklahoma Highway Patrol) and the ABLE Commission and actually sending undercover officers, undercover agents into the bar establishments where the liquor is being served to make sure people are being served responsibly," said Officer Craig Murray, the Tulsa traffic safety coordinator. 


"The mere presence of an officer a lot of times will curtain any criminal activity or make people think before they get behind the wheel of a car," he added.


With all the planning, the owner of Arnie's Bar said his event should go off smoothly, but he cannot wait to see the holiday come and go. 


"We're open 364 days a year," Armstrong said, "and we give ourselves and our livers a rest on the day after St. Patrick's Day." 


The city has closed several streets around town due to the parties, so officials ask drivers to be mindful of these closures on their commutes. 


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