- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 17, 2004

A light drizzle didn’t dampen the spirits of Irish celebrants and Irish wannabes on St. Patrick’s Day yesterday.

The weather wasn’t unlike Ireland’s, some said, so why let it stop them from partying?

“The weather has been bad all day, but the die-hard fans of St. Patrick’s Day will still come out,” said Officer Kenny Bryson, a D.C. police spokesman.

Police were braced for the holiday. In 2002, more Americans were killed by drunken drivers during St. Patrick’s Day than on New Year’s Eve, according to the Washington Regional Alcohol Program.

By early evening, Officer Bryson said, police had made a few arrests related to drunken driving, but there had been “no major incidents related to St. Patrick’s Day.”

Montgomery County police said things remained calm through the evening rush hour, and at 7 p.m., no arrests had been made.

Specially trained alcohol-enforcement officers patrolled in all six police districts beginning at 9 p.m.

“This is not as bad as other years because it is a weekday. People have to get up for work in the morning,” said Officer Derek Baliles, a county police spokesman.

As scheduled, D.C. police who went on duty at 6 a.m. were nearby when Lulu’s Club Mardi Gras at 22nd and M streets NW opened at 8 a.m. for an all-day and late night “Eggs and Kegs” celebration.

“There must have been 300 out here waiting,” said Sgt. Sam Delisi. But by mid-afternoon, he said, “There’s been no trouble. Everyone is having fun.”

“It’s been the busiest that it’s been in years,” said doorman Gordon Mason, 35, estimating that 1,600 were packed into the establishment.

All were holding drinks — though no green beer. Many wore green necklaces, green shamrocks stuck on their cheeks, green shirts and occasionally plaid kilts. A couple people were dressed like leprechauns.

“A lot of friendly people here,” said Jeremy Bay, 26, a construction worker who missed the previous four St. Patrick’s days at Lulu’s because he had to work. “I’ve been trying to get this day off for years.”

“It’s a good place to hang out. It’s a good celebration,” said Morgan Sink, 26, one of three auto mechanics from Fauquier County, Va., who came into the city to celebrate.

Across town at the Dubliner on Capitol Hill, celebrants appeared more distinguished and less demonstrative but just as happy.

“There were 45 or 50 waiting outside when we opened at 10 a.m.,” said Andrew Coleman, son of Daniel Coleman, who established the Dubliner 35 years ago.

The bar, which had a float in the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday, was scheduled to remain open until 2 a.m. Women and men, many dressed in business attire and all holding drinks, were talking, grinning, laughing and ready to stay.

Away from the revelry in the bars from Georgetown to Capitol Hill, Catholic churches marked the day in a quieter fashion.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick celebrated Mass at St. Patrick’s Church, joined by four bishops and a host of local priests.

Representatives of the Irish Embassy were among the sea of green in the packed house.

Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde, who gave the sermon, exhorted the congregation to become Christian witnesses after the example of Ireland’s most famous bishop.

“Times and places change, but Jesus Christ remains the same,” Bishop Loverde said.

Parishioners nodded when Bishop Loverde mentioned the Roman Catholic Church’s definition of marriage as part of Christ’s unchanging truth. After the Mass, a brightly decorated troupe of girls danced to bagpipes in front of the church, attracting the attention of pedestrians strolling along 10th Street NW.

• Sean Salai contributed to this article.

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