ST. PATRICK'S DAY: Police, bars prepare for Saturday celebration

ST. PATRICK'S DAY: Police, bars prepare for Saturday celebration

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With St. Patrick's Day fast approaching, a flurry of preparation is already under way as police agencies, transportation companies and local bars prepare for the Saturday celebration.

Although March 17 will fall on a Sunday, there will be parades in both St. Paul and Minneapolis on Saturday, and the crowds aren't expected to clear out until the wee hours.

The Twin Cities' newest Irish pub is hoping some of the celebration will head their way now that they opened just in time for the holiday even though it was more chance than design.

"That's just the way the cookie crumbled," said Paul Crilly, co-owner of Morrissey's Irish Pub on Lake Street. "Ideally, we'd like another week -- but it's down to the wire."

The pub joins a long list of authentic Irish bars in the metro, but it's a first for Uptown.

"It's like trying to bring a little bit of home -- like any immigrant story , bring a bit of home to where you are now," Crilly said.

St. Patrick's Day is a celebration of all things Irish, but many choose to over-indulge on beers rather than corned beef and cabbage. That's why police across the state will be upping DUI enforcement all weekend long.

Over the past five years, 11 people have died in crashes over the St. Patrick's Day holiday. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, it's a historically dangerous time to be on the roads -- right up in the ranks with the Fourth of July and New Year's Eve.

Troopers say that there's nothing wrong with enjoying a few green beers, but the biggest mistake most people make is not planning ahead for a ride home.

"The main thing we want to do is have people get a safe ride, make sure they get home safely," explained Lt. Robert Zak, with the Minnesota State Patrol. "Plan ahead because there really is no excuse for having a DUI."

That's especially true on Saturday, because Metro Transit will offer free bus rides and rail service starting at 6 p.m.

"Everybody who wants to ride -- whether you're celebrating or want to stay off the roads in case someone who has been celebrating is one there, this is a great, safe way to get home and get around that night," said Adam Mehi, with Metro Transit.

Last year, Metro Transit gave about 56,000 free rides on St. Patrick's Day.

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