Oahu celebrates St. Paddy’s Day with two massive street parties, one in Waikiki and another in Downtown Honolulu
With the hard work of the island’s popular Irish pubs and The Friends of St. Patrick Hawaii, Oahu throws two of the most rollicking St. Paddy’s parties in the United States. This year, March 17 falls on a Saturday, which means crowd numbers may near 20,000. As in New York City, there is a grand parade (with a distinctly Hawaiian touch) with thousands of participants turning out all afternoon and night for green beer, pints of Guinness, plates of corned beef and other traditional foods, bagpipes and rocking local entertainment.
Beginning at Fort DeRussy at noon, the Waikiki parade makes its way along Kalakaua Avenue to Kapiolani Park. Celebrants then gather at their favorite pubs, with Kelley O’Neils (311 Lewers St.) the primary headquarters for the Irish in Waikiki. The party-makers start flowing in by 4:30 p.m., with spillover crowds heading to other popular pubs like the Hideaway (1913 Dudoit Lane) and Arnold’s Beach Bar (339 Saratoga Road).
Meanwhile the action in Honolulu centers around Nuuanu Avenue and Merchant Street. For more than 30 years, Don Murphy has spearheaded Honolulu’s block party—“the grandest St. Patrick’s Day Celebration in the Pacific”—centered around Murphy’s Bar & Grill, which has standing room only by lunch time, starting at 11 a.m. (make your reservations as far in advance as possible). Across the street, O’Toole’s is another favorite downtown watering holes for celebrants. An adjacent parking area on Nuuanu Avenue is converted into a caravan of tents serving beer, corned beef with cabbage and—one of the most popular annual items—plates of fresh shucked oysters. T-shirts and other memorabilia are also for sale.
People begin to gather around the food and beer tents about noon, with the bigger crowds coming at 5 p.m. when Nuuanu Avenue and Merchant Street are closed off for the massive block party, which attracts up to 20,000 revelers. Children can enjoy a Keiki Fair (with cotton candy, popcorn, balloons and face painting) from noon to 4 p.m. in the parking lot, but it’s not the best place for youngsters once the crowd of partying adults rolls in for a blast of live DJ music and dancing. Only cash is accepted, and ATM machines are available. Beyond the block party, many revelers also make it a point to drop into Ferguson’s Pub on Bishop Street, Hank’s on Nuuanu Avenue and JJ Dolan’s on Bethel Street. No matter where you celebrate, don’t forget to wear a bit of green!
Erin go bragh. Or, as we say in Hawaii, Erin go, brah.
Photos by Brett Uprichard; Shutterstock