By Peter H. Milliken
It was a lucky day for the Irish in downtown Youngstown, with St. Patrick’s Day falling on a sunny and warm Saturday and throngs coming from all over the region to enjoy the fourth annual St. Paddy’s Day Dash.
Revelers registered at the B&O Station Banquet Hall, where bagpipers and Irish step dancers performed.
From there, they rode a trolley loop between 1 p.m. and 1 a.m. as they patronized 17 participating bars and restaurants in and near the city’s downtown.
Some participants were newcomers to the event and arrived in large groups, and at least one — Erin Bradley of Cortland — was celebrating a birthday with family and friends.
“There are tons of restaurants out here that are awesome, so I’m just here to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and my birthday,” said Bradley, who tied the event into her 32nd-birthday observance.
Bradley, who wore a hair clip bearing two shamrocks and a happy-birthday message and was a first-time dash participant, said her husband, Jim, suggested that she celebrate her birthday at the downtown event.
The trolley made it easy for her seven-member group to “be safe and have a good time,” she said.
Another first-time attendee was Connie Moorhouse of New Castle, Pa., who arrived at the B&O in a chauffeured van with her husband, Scott, and 13 friends from the New Castle area.
“It sounded really fun,” said Moorhouse, adding that she was attracted to the event by “the scope of all the restaurants” and live music, the unseasonably warm weather, and the convenience of the trolley.
Yet another newcomer was Ralph McMahan of Boardman, who arrived wearing a green bandanna and giant green eyeglass frames with flashing lights.
“Downtown’s kind of emerging a little bit. ... I like to support the town,” McMahan said, noting that he typically has celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at Austintown and Boardman establishments.
Venues offered Irish and non-Irish entertainment.
A major entertainment venue was a tent set up in Phelps Street outside the new V2 Wine Bar and Trattoria, featuring popular local acts, including Rudy and the Professionals, George C and Tha Storm and Hoss and the Juggernauts.
A major Irish food venue was the Overture Restaurant at the DeYor Performing Arts Center, where the operator and executive chef, Jeff Chrystal, prepares breakfast, lunch and dinner every St. Patrick’s Day.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to see our regular clientele or some family and friends that you never get to see but once a year,” Chrystal said.
“It’s an awesome tradition that we’ve done for a lot of years,” he added, noting that it started at his previous Youngstown restaurant locations.
With Irish music from loudspeakers beckoning customers, diners sat indoors and outdoors at the Overture, enjoying corned- beef and cabbage dinners, corned-beef chowder, corned-beef omelettes and sandwiches, Reuben sandwiches and pizzas, braised Irish lamb stew, braised Guinness steak, Irish salmon and Irish nachos.
Step Dancers from the Burke School of Irish Dance entertained the diners at Overture.
“It brings people downtown, and it shows them all the great restaurants and great establishments that we have,” Lyndsey A. Hughes, the city’s downtown events director, said of the dash. The goal of the dash is to “bring as many people as possible downtown to have fun,” she added. Hughes said cab companies and a designated-driver service would be available to provide safe rides home for anyone who might not feel comfortable driving after a day of celebration.