At Syracuse's 60th annual Green Beer Sunday everyone is Irish for the day
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
Did you know Syracuse, N.Y., spends weeks celebrating St. Patrick's Day? So a bar there is going all in with green beer - 10,000 gallons of it. Ava Pukatch is with member station WRVO. She visited the neighborhood where the celebration kicked off with the 60th annual Green Beer Sunday.
AVA PUKATCH, BYLINE: On a chilly Sunday morning, the line to enter Coleman's, an Irish pub in Tipperary Hill, stretches up the hill to the city's upside-down stoplight, where proud Irish immigrants in the 1920s would break the light because they wanted their nationality on top of the British red.
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PUKATCH: Thousands in a sea of green, wearing kilts, four-leaf clover cowboy hats and shamrock temporary tattoos, celebrate by toasting with pitchers of beer. And it starts off a parade with Irish dancers, bagpipes and even a Miss Green Beer.
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PUKATCH: Those beeps are each from a 10,000-gallon tanker truck filled with green beer. It's going to be sold until St. Patrick's Day.
MICHAEL RYAN: I'm Michael Ryan, the grand marshal. This is my wife, Mary Kay.
PUKATCH: Michael and Mary Kay Ryan met at Peter Coleman's pub 14 years ago. They celebrated their wedding there, and today, they are the grand marshals in the roughly two-block-long parade.
RYAN: So when my dad was grand marshal in 2006, he wore this very tie that Peter Coleman gave them with the green beers on it. And I only wore this once since then. I wore it to Peter Coleman's funeral. So it's a big tradition, it's a big honor for me to carry on my dad's tradition and Peter Coleman's tradition.
PUKATCH: Peter Coleman invented the holiday. Because he always had to work St. Patrick's, he picked a Sunday to ring in the season with some friends. And each year, the event grew. His daughter Beth says this year, the pub launched a beer in his memory.
BETH COLEMAN DEEHAN: He is so with us in spirit, and I know he is smiling down on this, that this tradition - and it will - he'll always be with us. This will carry on.
PUKATCH: Jean Doner is a former Green Beer Sunday marshal and has been coming to Coleman's since 1957.
JEAN DONER: It's unbelievable what this has turned into and people from all over - I mean, you know, not just the neighborhood, like it once was.
PUKATCH: What are a few of your memories of the early Green Beer Sundays.
DONER: I'm not quite sure we believed that the - it was green - real green beer. But we kind of, like, went along with Peter, knowing that he was out in the other room pouring food coloring in.
PUKATCH: As for what makes the beer green now, Michael Ryan won't say.
RYAN: That's a secret. Nobody tells any of that (laughter).
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Only the leprechauns can tell you about that.
PUKATCH: As St. Patrick's Day approaches, Syracusans will continue to ring in the season with more parades, celebrations and, of course, green beer.
Thank you so much. Happy Green Beer Day.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Thank you. Yes, happy Green Beer Day.
RYAN: Happy Beer Day.
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PUKATCH: For NPR News, I'm Ava Pukatch in Syracuse.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.