On St. Patrick's Day at O'Connor's, They Danced, Drank and Wore Green
Patch hung out at the downtown pub for the day.
O'Connor's Public House in downtown Rochester is expecting 4,000 people to drink 20,000 pints of beer today. Patch hung out amid the crowd to set the scene.
5 p.m. From before sunrise until the sun started to set behind downtown Rochester this evening, Patch reported live from a tiny table beside the stage (thanks, Chef!) We saw a grown man sit in a bowl of cereal and wondered often what made the beer green. But now it's time for the afterhours crowd, and that means we're going to pack up our reporting gear and head home. It's been real and it's been fun, O'Connor's. And for anyone out there who feels the urge to join in the fun, know that the party continues — there and at other spots around town — until early Friday morning. Be Irish!
4:10 p.m. The after-work crowd is starting to trickle in, including men and women dressed in business casual. The Marvins are playing a mix of classic, old-school tunes and newer popular songs, including songs by Johnny Cash and Cake.
3:45 p.m. Most of the people we have run into came from faraway lands (Canton, Ann Arbor, Belleville, Wyandotte and Warren, to name just a few) but we did catch up with one hometown guy who came to check out the party. Brad Shanahan wouldn't necessarily call himself a "regular," but he and his Rochester Hills family do enjoy a dinner or two at O'Connor's every once in a while. Shanahan put the day into perspective. "This is a very festive town. People here like to come out for a good party, and we all like to support our local, hometown businesses." Shanahan works from home and said he was at O'Connor's enjoying a "liquid lunch."
3:35 p.m. Rumor around O'Connor's is that the truly Irish wear green underwear, and some are out to prove it. Extra credit points if the undies in question include shamrocks, as one Birmingham guest was happy to show.
3:30 p.m. Security guard Tony Jones calls the crowd a pretty calm group — so far. Craziest thing he has seen in his bouncing day: people flipping port-a-potties. Hope it doesn't come to that tonight.
3:25 p.m. The G-Daddy's finished their second set; The Marvins are taking over soon. They plan on playing a mix of popular songs, though they are "primarily an original band," said bassist and backup vocalist Carmen Paradise.
2:30 p.m. Just met "Stirz," the hot dog guy, and his attitude embodies the O'Connor's attitude about their St. Patrick's Day celebration. "We try to bring everything to the guest because then they don't have to go searching — basically you don't have to move unless you want to dance." There are four food servers working the bar and Stirz has already emptied his bag of goodies four times today.
2:15 p.m. We have been out among the people looking for the guest that has traveled the farthest to party at O'Connor's. The winner so far is Austin, TX. Can you beat that? Your ID will prove it!
2:05 p.m. Tamara Jorgensen drove from Canton to check out the party at O'Connor's. "We heard it was better than Detroit," she said. She brought a friend, Jessica Thompson of Commerce Township. "We've run in races here before, so we know Rochester." The two ran in the Downtown December Dash last year.
1:50 p.m. The streets of downtown Rochester are alive with Irish spirit. People are out and about, if only to see what's going on inside the party hubs. Next door to O'Connor's, Tower Pizza is bustling, as people come in looking for a slice of pizza (and, admittedly, a bathroom). Owner Shelly Anderson politely shows them the way.
1:45 p.m. Tent overcrowded; no one from inside the pub being allowed into the tent momentarily. It's not an edict — just a friendly recommendation by management.
12:50 p.m. The G-Daddy's are back and covering Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" and Rick Springfield "Jessie's Girl." Suddenly everyone is wearing green beads, too.
12:30 p.m. The G-Daddy's finished their first set and are taking a break. Maybe they're eating corned beef and cabbage for lunch?
11:55 a.m. The dance floor in the tent is really heating up as the G-Daddy's play The Trammps' "Disco Inferno." It's a sea of green and orange at O'Connor's as the lunch hour approaches.
11:10 a.m. The band is playing Kid Rock. The makeshift dance floor is full.
11:05 a.m. The G-Daddy's are on stage in the tent. It is a pop-rock band from Warren. Inside, an Irish band is playing.
10:40 a.m. Have you met Jack Lentz? He's one owner of Last Call Services, which will get you and your vehicle home safely if you can't drive yourself. It's normally $40 for 5 miles, $45 for 10 miles and $3 for each additional mile. But today it is offering a discount of $5-$10 off. Lentz said he has no problem stopping at Taco Bell on the way.
10:20 a.m. Sophia Kosch is the youngest girl at the party. She came attached to her dad, Greg, and alongside her uncle, Ryan. The Rochester brothers come here every year and wanted to introduce the 10-month-old to the festivities. "Her grandma is on her way to pick her up," Greg Kosch said.
10:15 a.m. We're into hour five here. This is what we're hearing from our cozy place inside: There's a short line outside. There's still plenty of parking around downtown. The sun is shining (we're under the tent).
9:55 a.m. Mike Fitzgerald of Clarkston is the father of two sons and a marathon runner. He's also the guy who sat in a giant swimming pool of Lucky Charms this morning, all in the name of concert tickets. "First it was cold, then it was cool and then it was just gross," Fitzgerald said. He volunteered for the challenge, which was offered by Mojo in the Morning and crew. "I would have sat there all day," he said afterward. He still had a marshmallow or two stuck to his neck, though he had changed into dry clothes. "There really was no reason not to do it."
9:15 a.m. The tent is packed. We're guessing about 200 people are here. No major lines for drinks, but it's not easy getting from one spot to the next without bumping into a beer cup or two.
9 a.m. Just talked to Michelle Diamond from the southeast Michigan chapter of the American Red Cross. She's working the crowd, collecting donations.
8:45 a.m. We wouldn't be responsible media without a few warnings. Here's how you can spot a driver who has maybe had too much to drink, courtesy of Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard. Look for:
- a driver traveling 10 mph below the posted speed limit
- a driver suddenly stopping for no apparent reason
- a vehicle traveling too closely to other vehicles
- braking erratically
- inconsistent use of turn signals
- driving without turning headlights on
- drifting in a straight line at a slight angle to the roadway.
What should you do if you see any of these signs? Call 911 and report the car's description and location.
8:35 a.m. Here's something that may come in handy later today. Starting at noon you can take a limo home, courtesy of the pub. It will run all day and all they ask is for a $10 tip. "It's first come, first serve," chef Michael Keys said.
8:30 a.m. We just caught up with Rochester City Manager Jaymes Vettraino, who wandered through the tent (drinking Irish coffee, we should note). "It's a one-day event and O'Connor's obviously goes over the top, but they've absolutely taken every suggestion we have offered in order to make the event safer and better." Specifically, this year the tent is out of the alley. There are extra restrooms (well, if that's what you want to call them) outside. And the pub is working hard to control the recycling and trash (read our report on "recycle boy" from earlier this morning).
8:25 a.m. Back to the guy in the giant bowl of cereal. The crowd is now chanting "Eat the Charms! Eat the Charms!"
8:20 a.m. If you're wondering what else is going on around Rochester, here is what we know. Penny Black and The Hills are open. There's a trolley running between the two. Rochester Mills opens at 11:30 a.m. with no cover charge and no green beer. At Fuse, the party starts at 3 p.m. Fieldstone Winery is closed: "Green wine just does not have them same appeal as green beer," its Facebook page reads. Click here for a complete guide.
8:15 a.m. No line at the bar in the tent.
8 a.m. There is a man sitting inside a giant bowl of Lucky Charms. He is attempting to stay there an hour to win concert tickets, courtesy of Mojo in the Morning. There is a line of people waiting to be photographed with him.
7:45 a.m. Steven Brown is recycle boy. He is one of many temporary employees here today and that is his sole duty: to circle the crowd, gather cups and transport them to the recycling bins out back. O'Connor's has thought of everything.
7:40 a.m. Observations in the crowd: A girl with a leprechaun attached to her shoulder (her conscience, maybe?) and a man with a 7-inch neon green mohawk.
7:25 a.m. A crowd in front of the stage is playing a game called "Potty of Gold." It's exactly what you might envision such a contest is: they are "bobbing for gold" inside a toilet. Really. There's supposedly a gold ring, courtesy of Lucido Fine Jewelry, inside the pot. It's one of those you-have-to-be-there moments.
7:20 a.m. Tony Jones and David Anderson are guarding the back door. Jones works at O'Connor's as a bouncer on weekends; he offers this advice for avoiding being "bounced" from the bar later today:
- pace your drinking;
- eat often,
- don't drink and drive.
It's simple advice, but he says simple works best on days like today. He arrived at 5:30 a.m. and will be on his feet, checking IDs and keeping the peace until the bar closes tonight. "I plan to drink a lot of Red Bull," he said.
7:15 a.m. The lights are back on. The bar is officially open and there's a line of about 50 in the tent for beer.
7 a.m. O'Connor's has been open for an hour. The crowd is growing by the minute. In the tent, half of the power is out and the staff is working to fix it.
6:55 a.m. Here's what's going on, by the numbers: There are four bars, seven extra bathrooms, two stages and zero tables — they're gone for the day to make more room for the crowd.
6:50 a.m. So, seriously, we're outside. But we just had to remind ourselves of that fact. Because this 6,000-square-foot tent is, actually, surprisingly homey. It encompasses the area surrounding the pub's back staircase and ramp, and it even covers the ramp that leads to Hepplewhite's next door. There's a makeshift bar that looks like it belongs here and nonstop balloons, green lights and Miller Lite signs.
6:45 a.m. They just refilled the bacon dish.
6:40 a.m. About 100 people have filed into the tent. There's a VIP area nearby — you need a wristband to enter. If you don't have a wristband yet — well, you are out of luck. Mojo asks the crowd: Are you all from Oakland University? They scream and cheer.
6:25 a.m. We are sitting next to the breakfast buffet. Eggs, potatoes and nonstop bacon.
6:15 a.m. "I came for the eggs and beer," said Nate Igielinski, who was one of the first customers inside O'Connor's this morning. His wife, Angee, came along — but not necessarily for the green beer. Angee Igielinski is pregnant with the Rochester Hills' couple's third child. Their other two children are asleep at home with grandparents. "This is just our tradition," Angee Igielinski said.
6 a.m. The doors are officially open. There's no cover charge until 10 a.m. (thanks to Mojo in the Morning — the radio show is broadcasting live on a stage next to us). In front of the stage, four guys are performing karaoke.
"Nothing says St. Patrick's Day like Bell Biv Devoe's 'Poison,' " Mojo says in analyzing their performance.
5:45 a.m. The stoplights in downtown Rochester are still flashing red. The sky is dark and the streets are mostly empty. But inside the tent in the alley behindO'Connor's Public House, the party is all green.
The doors open at 6 a.m. and Curtis Smith of Rochester is the first in line.
"I'll be here all day," said Curtis. "I have a designated driver. Actually it's a designated walker — I live right near here. This is just a tradition."
He came with Kim Meggison, who woke up at 4 a.m. to drive in from Belleville.
"I plan to be here for a couple hours, then go home and sleep, then go back out," Meggison. "I don't drink. I'm just here because it's the day to party."