You’d think a guy named Pat O’Neil would be all about St. Patrick’s Day.
And he is, to a point.
But Sullivan’s Island has gotten beyond that point, so the mayor-elect and Town Council last week decided to scale back their celebration just a bit.
Mainly, they want to cut out some of the vomiting and public urination.
So now a lot of folks on the island — primarily the businesses that do so well on that festive holiday — are crying in their green beers.
Oh, the luck of the Irish.
It is a shame, no doubt, to see the annual celebration reined in. The island has a pretty strong Irish heritage. In fact it used to be called O’Sullivan’s Island in honor of Florence O’Sullivan — the island’s 17th century lighthouse keeper and one of the first Irish settlers in these parts.
But O’Sullivan wouldn’t recognize the place these days, especially when people are running through the streets beating on cop cars like Notre Dame had just won the national championship.
The sad truth is St. Patrick’s Day has become just another day for amateur drunks to show their shamrocks. Like Cinco de Mayo, or New Year’s Eve. And nobody wants that in their front yard.
Not even a guy named Pat O’Neil.
O’Neil, who will be sworn in on Tuesday to fill out the unexpired term of the late Mayor Mike Perkis, is not happy it has come to this.
Sullivan’s Island has had a great St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Dunleavy’s — a fine Irish pub — going back 20 years.
“It’s been a great event up until a couple of years ago,” O’Neil says.
See, some of the other bars and restaurants on the island decided to get in on the fun and suddenly people were walking down the middle of Middle Street carousing and pub crawling.
Or just crawling.
Eventually the town decided to shut down Middle Street for the party, seeing as how cars and alcohol and drunks don’t mix. And you know what happened after that.
As they say, if you pour it, they will come ... and drink until they pass out.
So last year between 10,000 and 15,000 people showed, and it got a tad out of hand. People were vomiting off the Ben Sawyer bridge and one guy who couldn’t hold it any longer let fly in someone’s front yard.
It didn’t even matter that this particular property was across the street from the temporary police station.
Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.
Now, the pro-party people think the problem was not enough portable toilets. But it went a little beyond that. Sullivan’s police had to take several loads of revelers to the county jail, and at least one of the officers was subjected to some racist berating.
That’s just unacceptable.
We should thank our Lucky Charms no one was seriously injured. Like the drunk running his fool mouth.
The plan now is to have St. Patrick’s Day festivities on the 17th, a Tuesday, and the town will close off Station 22½ next to Dunleavy’s.
Of course businesses are disappointed. They would make more money on a Saturday. But a weekend party would just be a repeat of last year.
Some people fear this is part of a disturbing trend. Between this and talk of parking passes for the island, and dust-up over the Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day, these folks believe they aren’t welcome at the public beach.
That’s not it. It’s about people not acting appropriately. The beach may belong to everyone, but you have to go through neighborhoods to get to it, and a lot of people have a hard time showing respect.
And Sullivan’s is not unreasonable. They allowed the plunge to go on, and it was fine.
“The Polar Bear Plunge got a lot of ‘great event’ comments — but this (St. Patrick’s Day), not so much,” O’Neil says. “If you want that kind of party, Savannah is only two hours away.”
That’s a good suggestion. If you want fall-down drunken St. Paddy partying, Savannah is your town, not Sullivan’s.
This is not about snobbery, and it is not about limiting access to the beach or anything else. It’s about a community that does not want a bunch of drunken foolishness in their streets, or people using their yards as a bathroom.
Honestly, no one would want a party like that in their neighborhood.
Except maybe for guys who think it is perfectly acceptable to water other people’s lawns.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org