After its inaugural sold-out success in 2012, the alcohol-free celebration of all things Irish, Sober St. Patrick’s Day, will again take place after the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 16.
In one year, Sober St. Patrick’s Day has established itself as a family friendly option for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, the greenest day on the world calendar. Over the years, the holiday has become associated with binge drinking and public intoxication, which reinforces the stereotype of the “drunken Irish.”
This negative image alienates large segments of the community -- families with young children, teens, senior citizens, members of the recovery community and many others who have stopped celebrating the day due to concerns about out-of-control behavior.
Sober St. Patrick’s Day was created as a fresh alternative for those who want to celebrate the holiday in an alcohol-free atmosphere. The event, which is in its second year, was launched by award-winning TV producer William Spencer Reilly, and features an entertainment lineup that includes world-class Irish musicians, dancers and comedians.
“Our mission is to reclaim the true spirit of the day, and to change the perception of what St. Patrick’s Day can be,” said Reilly.
“We’re doing this by providing an event that focuses on the richness of Irish culture, in a rip-roaring party. For anyone not in recovery, we’re not against anyone enjoying a couple of drinks on St. Patrick’s Day. We're just against the practice of some people using the holiday as an excuse to get drunk.”
This year’s diverse lineup features a host of internationally-acclaimed artists, including John Whelan (eight-time All-Ireland champion button accordion player); Brian Conway (five-time All-Ireland champion fiddle player), Haley Richardson (10-year-old Irish fiddle champion) and Malachy McCourt (author, actor and raconteur).
Also scheduled to appear are Brendan Dolan, Tara O’Grady, Marie Reilly, Fiona Conway, the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance plus special surprise celebrity guests and political leaders. Noel Kilkenny, the Consul General of Ireland, will be attending again this year. George Heslin of Origin Theatre Company will serve as the MC. Two-time Tony Award nominee Peter Link will direct.
Sober St. Patrick’s Day will launch its first international satellite event this year. The Belfast City Council in Northern Ireland recently announced that they will be incorporating Sober St. Patrick’s Day into their St. Patrick’s Day Festival this year. More details will be made available next week.
The New York City event will take place on Saturday, March 16 from 3-6 p.m. at Regis High School, 60 East 85th Street, New York. Tickets are $12 per person, which includes light refreshments. For information and tickets visit www.soberstpatricksday.org.
Sponsors for Sober St. Patrick’s Day include: PepsiCo, the O’Sullivan Children Foundation, Caron Treatment Centers, Seabrook House, William C. Dowling Jr. Foundation, Tourism Ireland–The Gathering, Betty Ford Center, Hazelden, Northern Ireland Bureau, PRMA, NACoA, Father Martin’s Ashley, Freedom Institute, Inter-Care, Faces & Voices of Recovery, Creative Care Malibu, ATPA, Realization Center, Café Regular, New York Center for Living, NCADD, Bridge Back to Life, Inc. and individual donors Ruth Riddick, Sean Driscoll and Sis Wenger.