St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, falls on a Sunday this year, and, as is the custom, a memorandum of understanding has been reached between O’Donnell Square area bars and the community.
Last year, St. Patrick’s Day got out of hand in the O’Donnell Square area, and the Guide reported that after littering the square with refuse, revelers “proceeded to squirt bodily fluids all over the residential quarter of Canton.”
According to reports and First District Councilman Jim Kraft’s office, the mayhem came from partiers purchasing liquor at package stores rather than those drinking in the bars.
Kraft met with community members and representatives from the Police Department in January to finalize this year’s details.
Bars that have signed the MOU are The Americana, Claddaugh Pub, Coburn’s Tavern, Grunwald Club, JD’s Smokehouse, Looney’s Pub, Mama’s on the Half Shell, Nacho Mama’s, Plug Ugly’s, Portside Tavern, Shiso Tavern, Speakeasy, and Tavern on the Square.
Though the actual holiday is on a Sunday, the MOU applies to Saturday, too; the event is scheduled to take place both days from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Though the bars remain open until 2 a.m., outdoor music and tent-drinking stops at 11 p.m. Kristyn Oldendorf, Kraft’s chief of staff, said that there will likely be two or three tents in O’Donnell Square.
Bars with celebration permits may allow drinking in roped-off sections of sidewalk in front of the establishments; businesses that sell food and have signed the MOU may serve food and non-alcoholic drinks in front of their buildings.
Bars involved in the MOU will be paying off-duty Baltimore Police officers, armed and uniformed, to patrol streets and alleys between Elliot St., Kenwood Ave., Ellwood Ave., and Hudson St. on Saturday and Sunday nights from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. These officers will supplement on-duty officers.
“We are working with the Southeast Police [District] to make sure the officers are patrolling throughout the neighborhood,” read a handout from Kraft’s office.
Private security guards must be stationed at the front and back of bars, plus in any outdoor, roped-off drinking area, to ensure that patrons don’t leave with drinks in their hands.
“The bars all know that and are very good about not letting people walk off with alcohol,” said Oldendorf.
Kraft’s office also disseminated information about traffic enforcement and street closures for St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
“Basically, the square itself is closed,” said Oldendorf.
O’Donnell St. from Potomac St. to Linwood Ave. is closed to traffic from 7 a.m. on Saturday, March 16, to 7 a.m. on Monday, March 18.
The east-west alley immediately north of O’Donnell St. from Potomac to Linwood will be blocked, as will the east-west alley south of O’Donnell, from S. Curley St. to S. Linwood Ave.
From 7 p.m. on Friday, March 15, to 7 a.m. on Monday, March 18, S. Curley St. and S. Streeper St. will be closed from O’Donnell Square to the alley.
As of 7 a.m. on Saturday, March 17, cars remaining in the square will be towed to the Department of Transportation lot at Canton Waterfront Park. There is no fee to recover cars. Free resident parking will be provided in the Brewers Hill parking lot, 3700 block of O’Donnell St., on Saturday and Sunday.
Oldendorf said that there is no memorandum of understanding for Fell’s Point, where pubs typically stage pub crawls rather than beer tents.
“We try to be aware of them and notify the police that they are happening, but you don’t need a permit to organize your deals with other bars,” she said.
by Erik Zygmont