Tent party draws thousands downtown

A sea of green took over the corner of Michigan and Wayne streets Friday night as thousands of people kicked off their St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

Around 5,000 people packed the 11th annual St. Paddy's Tent Party and Pub Tour, which features live music and festive drinks.

"The rain's certainly not stopping folks," said Executive Director of DTSB Aaron Perri. "It's like the true Irish weather here."

The event had several new features this year, including authentic Irish music and a special "green room," which offered a wider variety of drinks and upgraded bathrooms.

But, the party also encourages residents to step outside of the tent and venture into nearby businesses. A free trolley makes 15 different stops throughout downtown.

One of the stops is the Chicory Cafe just down the streets, where residents could enjoy some special seasonal drinks and food.

"I spent a little bit of time in the kitchen and made some great Irish stew," said Owner Phillip Schreiber.

The cafe decided to stay open late Friday to help cash in on the crowds from the tent party.

So did the downtown Bruno's Pizza, which served up slices until about 1:30 a.m. The manager says the tent party is one of their busiest days of the year and a great example of how to bring new faces downtown.

"Anything that brings people downtown and spending money is a good thing for us," said Manager Alicia Shea.

The city's St. Patrick's Day festivities will continue Saturday, starting with a Leprechaun Chase Race at 9:30 a.m. That will be followed by the 11 a.m. parade and greening of the East Race.

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