St. Paddy’s Day fun goes beyond beer

Atlanta St. Patrick's Parade, pre-parade performances begin at 11:30, parade begins at noon Saturday, March 16, free, Peachtree St., between Ralph McGill Blvd. and Marietta Street. Information: 404-295-5242;

Spring Green Festival, all day, Saturday, March 16, from 8 a.m. 5k race to a battle of the bands beginning at 5:30 p.m.; free; in downtown Lawrenceville, parking at Pike Street and Perry Street; information:

ART Station "Raising of the Green," silent and live auction to benefit ART Station, with food from Stone Mountain restaurants provided by "Taste of Stone Mountain," 6-10 p.m., Sunday, March 17, $20 in advance, $25 at the door; at ART Station, 5384 Manor Drive, in Stone Mountain Village; information: 770-469-1105;

LEPRE-CON 2013, the fourth annual giant outdoor party at Park Tavern, on the edge of Piedmont Park, sponsored by A Social Mess, 3-11 p.m., Saturday, March 16, $23, Park Tavern, 500 10th Street; information: 404-249-0001;

Jimmy Webb and The Buddy O'Reilly Band, two different shows by Eddie Owen Presents at the Red Clay Theatre in Duluth; Buddy O'Reilly Band, 1:30 p.m., Saturday, March 16, $7.50 children, $15 adults; An Evening with Jimmy Webb, 8 p.m., Saturday, March 16, $35-38 in advance, $40-42 at the door; at the Red Clay Theatre, 3116 Main St., Duluth; information: 404-478-2749;

Yes, St. Patrick’s Day is more than malted beverages.

A song-writing master, a bed-pushing race and the 131st St. Patrick’s Parade in downtown Atlanta are among the St. Patrick’s Day activities on tap for the weekend.

And while there will be plenty of opportunities for partiers to hoist a glass (or Solo cup) of beer of a different color, there is also an expanding menu of family activities for those who prefer their green in the form of shamrocks and Gummie bears.

Here are five ways to celebrate:

Atlanta St. Patrick’s Parade

About 80,000 are expected at this downtown spectacle on Saturday, March 16, and good weather will push the number even higher. But Ireland’s consul general to Atlanta, Paul Gleeson, said precipitation wouldn’t slow them down.

“The Irish people aren’t put off by a little bit of rain,” said Gleeson, who, along with Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore, will be among the dignitaries in attendance.

Boasting 2,000 dancers, musicians and folks hauling giant inflatables, the parade will rumble south on Peachtree Street, from Ralph McGill Boulevard to Five Points.

The scale of the event — and the presence of one of Ireland’s highest-ranking elected officials among the guests — is a measure of the Irish presence in Atlanta, said Gleeson. That presence is boosted by the fact that Atlanta is the headquarters to construction materials giant Oldcastle, a division of Dublin-based CRH plc and Ireland’s biggest employer in the U.S.

Spring Green Festival

Billed as the largest family-friendly St. Patrick’s-themed festival in North Georgia, Lawrenceville’s Spring Green event drew about 12,000 celebrants last year to this Gwinnett County seat. “We’re not a beer-fest,” said Vanessa Churco, president of New Lawrenceville, the consortium of businesses promoting the event.

Spring Green begins at 7 a.m. Saturday, March 16, with registration for the 5K run sponsored by Chick-fil-A, and continues through the evening with a battle of the bands.

In between those times visitors can enter a bed-pushing race, buy a raffle ticket for a 2013 Camaro convertible and check out a car and motorcycle show.

The activities take place in downtown Lawrenceville. Said Churco, “we’re promoting it as a big, fun, family day for everyone to come out enjoy the spring.”

ART Station “Raising of the Green,” in Stone Mountain

This fund-raiser for the ART Station on Sunday, March 17, draws visitors with a deep and eclectic silent and live auction menu.

Among the big-ticket items on the block are a four-day trip to Costa Rica for 10 people, a vacation to Ireland that includes a stay in a castle and jaunts to New York and Las Vegas. There are also plenty of smaller treats being offered, including certificates for spa treatments, haircuts and restaurant meals.

There are at least 300 lots to bid on, said ART Station program manager Jon Goldstein. Visitors to the event will dine on “A Taste of Stone Mountain,” featuring food from local restaurants, and can sip the familiar emerald-hued beer.

Proceeds from the event will support the ART Station, a cultural center with galleries, studios, dance rehearsal facilities, a theater company and a performance space, housed in a renovated trolley barn in the village of Stone Mountain.


Fancifully named after those other “Cons” (i.e. Dragon-Con and Comic-Con), LEPRE-CON, on Saturday, March 16, is a massive outdoor (weather-permitting) beer party — plus costumes. Some of the outfits may have a tangential connection to Ireland (as in, they are green) and some (such as the apparel in the wet T-shirt contest) won’t.

Perhaps 4,000 folks will show up at the Park Tavern, on the southeast corner of Piedmont Park, to enjoy the ballpit, beverages and music from DJ Dainjazone of LMFAO and DJ Hurricane, formerly of the Beastie Boys.

Jimmy Webb and the Buddy O’Reilly Band

One of our great song-writers, Jimmy Webb didn’t write “The Unicorn” (that was the Irish Rovers), but he did write “The Last Unicorn,” along with “Wichita Lineman” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” Webb performs one of his infrequent Atlanta shows Saturday, March 16, at Eddie Owen Presents at the Red Clay Theatre, in Duluth.

The Buddy O’Reilly Band, one of Atlanta’s premier Celtic groups, will perform at the Red Clay Theatre earlier that day.