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Bars welcome St. Patrick's Day crowds after canceling events last year

Posted at 10:14 AM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 23:10:32-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Wednesday is St. Patrick’s Day, and like last year, the holiday comes amid concerns about the pandemic.

But unlike last year, there's a vaccine and we know more about COVID-19. 3 News Now reporter Kent Luetzen spoke with two people at Annie's Irish Pub who planned on celebrating the holiday starting early.

"Last year, we were all ready to go and it got canceled," one woman said. "This is my favorite holiday being Irish, so we set our alarms early and here we are."

Across the city, many bars and pubs were decked out in green to celebrate all things Irish.

“I’m very Irish, a lot of my friends are also very Irish, so just out celebrating and kind of a good girl’s day especially with everything going on," said Kirstin Thompson, who began her celebration at Karray's Cafe with a Rueben and then a first drink at Alderman's Bar.

Some, like Gilbert Ortiz, owner of Gil's Grub, brought their own culture into the holiday. Ortiz was selling homemade food outside of Alderman's Bar to patrons and those walking by.

“Everybody does cornbeef, so we decided we’re going to do a Puerto Rican twist," Ortiz said. "This is our more traditional for us, a very celebrated and holiday specific meal.”

Irish or not, people were excited to get out after last year’s festivities were some of the first to be canceled because of COVID.

“This year it’s even better because we weren’t able to celebrate last year," said Kayla Kros, who was celebrating in the Capitol District.

While the CDC and Douglas County Health Department advised against celebrating in public this year, bars in Nebraska were able to operate at 100% capacity.

“People are following the wear your mask inside, you know, sanitize," Kros said. "So I mean, it is a worry but at the same time, we’re just excited that there’s something going on.”

Kros said those in her group worked in healthcare and had already been vaccinated, so she felt comfortable celebrating in public.

A mask mandate is still in place in the city, but people are not required to wear one when eating or drinking. You also don’t have to wear one if you’re outside, like at the patios of Annie’s Irish Pub or Alderman’s.

"St. Patrick’s Day, whether you’re Irish or not, it’s just a good day to celebrate life and hang out with your friends," Kros said. "And I think that’s what we’re doing, especially since we’ve all had a really tough time last year.”

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