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Someone's lost the true meaning of St. Patrick's Day 

San Luis Obispo

My grandparents are from Ireland and Scotland, and having been born, educated, and working in Chicago for more than 40 years, I’ve been around St. Patrick’s Day celebrations for decades. I was also part of a team that televised about a half dozen ethnic parades each year in that city—including the St. Pat’s parade. So I saw how different ethnicities celebrated their heritage.

St. Patrick’s Day was a fun, family-oriented affair for decades. Then it started to turn sour 20 to 25 years ago. It began to be a “ticket” to drinking, more drinking, and eventually throwing up on the streets and sidewalks. It was no longer fun; it was sad, and you wanted to keep your family away from that scene.

I built a home in SLO years ago, and recently my family and I moved here full time. Yesterday, after I dropped off my son at school, I was coming down Higuera Street at about 8 a.m., and that sadness that evolved in Chicago came over me again. It’s happening here, too.

Predominantly younger people—wearing their “green” permission tickets—raised a ruckus and raised glass after glass to each other—not in celebration of Ireland’s patron saint, but as an opportunity to drink early and often here in SLO.

Clearly, having a drink as part of a celebration is fine. Yet when the spirit of the celebration is the “spirit” itself, someone’s lost the true intention of the day.

-- Tim Bennett - San Luis Obispo

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