Green Is the New Black

California is home to about 4 million Irish Americans, roughly a quarter of whom reside in the Bay Area. Today the West Coast’s largest celebration of that heritage -- the San Francisco’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival -- begins at Second and Market, where some 5,000 participants make their way to Civic Center Plaza. There’s live music from Those Manning Bhoys at noon, followed by Bernadette Flynn & Murphy Irish Dancers, and Celtic rock band the BlackEyed Dempseys. Art and craft vendors set up, as well as plenty of spots to grab snacks including corned beef and cabbage sandwiches, chips, sausages, and (if you must) falafel or teriyaki. If you want a pint of Guinness or Harp, there’s no shortage of spots to do that later, but today’s event is alcohol-free. Organizers say they want to keep it family-friendly, and highlight the “past, present, and future” influence of the Irish in San Francisco. Regarding that past, our city’s relationship with the small European island dates to its earliest years. In 1847, an immigrant from County Wexford named Jasper O’Farrell performed the first American land survey of the region. Another named Michael O’Shaughnessy, a native of County Limerick, became the city’s chief engineer in 1912, and oversaw the creation of the Twin Peaks Tunnel and Reservoir as well as the city’s streetcar system, from which five original lines survive. (He got a street name, too.) Those guys won’t be there, but their descendants might, alongside about 100,000 others, rain or shine.
Sat., March 17, 10 a.m., 2012

 
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