ROANOKE, Va. – A pandemic later and after three years of anticipation, Mother Nature had her own plans for the City of Roanoke’s Shamrock Festival.
“Some of the equipment that we needed to host the festival, there were concerns because of the wind,” said Downtown Roanoke Inc.’s Jaime Clark. “So we ended up having to move it.”
Clark said there’s still going to be a lot to do and see. The Freedom First St. Patrick’s Day Parade will happen Saturday morning at 11 a.m., no matter what.
“The parade, we cannot move just because of the logistics and permitting involved in the parade, amongst many, many other things,” explained Clark.
Martin’s Downtown won’t let the cold dampen the fun. Decorations are set up, nine bands are on standby, and employees are ready to serve up Irish-themed food and drinks.
“We’re going to make the best of it. Just kind of cross our fingers and hope for a little Irish luck,” said Jason Martin, the restaurant’s director of operations.
He said they’re moving the main stage and tent around the corner to the front of the restaurant to block the wind and bringing in outdoor heaters.
“Having outdoor events in the winter and cold weather like this isn’t unheard of. If you look at like New Year’s Eve, it’s always cold and people still come out. They just prepare for it. They bundle up,” said Martin. “An extra libation or two may keep you warm. Do what you got to do. We hope people will have that same spirit and come out because it’s St. Pat’s. This is St. Pat’s weekend.”
Martin’s will close its outdoor street party at 6:30 p.m. because temperatures are supposed to drop at night.
Clark said Downtown Roanoke has become a destination for the holiday, not just for Roanokers, but for people out of town rain, shine or flurries.
“It’s going to be a great parade. Come down and support downtown and downtown businesses and then come out next weekend as well to do it all over again,” said Clark.