NYC’s First COVID Restriction-Free Party

It’s an Irish hello.

This Thursday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day marks the first holiday in two years that Gothamites can celebrate without COVID restrictions. NYC dropped mask and vaccine mandates on March 7, with Mayor Adams declaring that the city is “back.”

Now, revelers are ready to lift an uncompromising pint of green beer and toast the city’s return.

“Looking forward to picking up the St. Patricks day plans I left on March 13, 2020,” Maggie McNeil, 24, a Murray Hill resident and an employee at Price Waterhouse Coopers, told The Post.

Aine McGirr, 26, and Sean Magee, 27, flew in from Ireland to celebrate their home country’s beloved holiday. McGirr told the Post they expect to be “a little crazy.”

Danny Andrade, who lives in Queens, is also enthusiastic: “Green puke all the way!!!!” he hyped on Facebook.

Bar and restaurant owners are eager to serve.

Sean Magee and Aine McGirr at Kevin's Pub, 7 West 45th Street.
Sean Magee and Aine McGirr toast the return of St. Paddy’s and celebrate at Kevin’s Pub at 7 West 45th Street.
Brian Zak/NY Post
Bartender Trevor Kelly poured a perfect pint of Guinness at Megan's Bar + Kitchen as people got into the Irish spirit on Wednesday.
Bartender Trevor Kelly poured a perfect pint of Guinness at Megan’s Bar + Kitchen as people got into the Irish spirit on Wednesday.
Brian Zak/NY Post

“We are prepared for large crowds. People are itching to do something. It seems long overdue. People [will] Be a little louder this year.”

Sean Reilly of Sean’s Bear + Kitchen in Midtown

“I think the town is ready for a little party now,” Danny McDonald – owner of Swift Hibernian Lounge, Ulysses, The Dead Rabbit, Underdog, Harry’s and The Bar at Moynihan Food Hall – told The Post.

“Everyone feasts to feel a bit like old New York,” says the Irish restaurateur.

He recalls the heartbreak of being forced to close the house just days before St. Patrick’s Day in 2020 when New York City enforced a coronavirus lockdown and required bars to close their doors.

“We had all the Guinness and Irish whiskey ready,” lamented McDonald.

Some bars held small celebrations in March 2021, but COVID-19 was still the main focus – limited capacity, limited bar hours, guests had to order food and remain seated.

Sean, Bernie and Kevin Reilly stand in front of two of their restaurants Sean's Bar + Kitchen and Rilley's Plates & Pours.
Sean, Bernie and Kevin Reilly look forward to welcoming huge and rowdy crowds to their nine Irish pubs, including Sean’s Bar + Kitchen and Reilly’s Plates & Pours.
Brian Zak/NY Post
Ciarra, Mary-Kate and Marquerite Hamill at Connolly's Pub at 121 West 45th Street
Ciarra, Mary-Kate and Marquerite Hamill raise Pre-St. Patrick’s Pints ​​at Connolly’s Pub, 121 West 45th Street.
Brian Zak/NY Post

This year, St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Thursday, so many of the celebrations will continue throughout the weekend.

Irish native Bernie Reilly and his sons Sean and Kevin are ready for their busiest day of the year and have already swapped out several of their beer lines for the 700 extra kegs of Guinness they ordered for their Midtown bars including Sean’s Bar + Kitchen, Kevin’s Pub, Megan’s Bar + Kitchen, Reilly’s Plates & Pours, Connolly’s, The Perfect Pint and Merrion Row Hotel & Public House.

“We are prepared for large crowds. People are itching to do something. It seems long overdue,” said Sean, who expects “people to get a little louder this year.”

A final round of ales sits on a table at McSorley's Old Ale House, established in 1854 and billed as New York's oldest Irish saloon, which was forced to close at 8 p.m. as part of a citywide shutdown to stop bars and restaurants from spreading the coronavirus Day before St. Patrick's Day in Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA on 16th March 2020.
Flashback to March 16, 2020: A final round of ales on a table at McSorley’s Old Ale House, established in 1854 and billed as New York’s oldest Irish pub, was forced to close at 8 p.m. as part of a citywide order to shut down bars and restaurants in an effort to help To slow the spread of the coronavirus the day before St. Patrick’s Day.
REUTERS
New York City is back in full swing just in time for St. Patrick's Day - one of the wettest holidays of the year.
New York City is back in full swing just in time for St. Patrick’s Day – one of the wettest holidays of the year.
SIPA USA via AP

Some Irish hotspots were too excited to contain their excitement and have already started their bank holiday celebrations.

The Wicked Monk in Brooklyn has been honoring the Irish holiday with traditional Irish music sessions since the football season ended in February.

“It feels like we’re going back to normal. It feels like we’re back home,” Megan Wynne, venue manager, told the Post.

“You can smell the corned beef down the street,” Wynne added.

But some New Yorkers aren’t quite ready to celebrate just yet.

“It’s cool to sit back and know that St. Patrick’s Day in New York City will be the same as Santa Con. Tons of drunks, new strain of Covid, restrictions lifted etc. Like watching a car crash in slow motion,” tweeted Ben Natan, an actor in New York City.

Aaron Doyle, Mark Lynch, Jamie Andrews, John Darcy, Aidan Morris, Daniel Kavanagh and Eoghan Doyle at Connolly's Pub 121 West 45th Street,
Aaron Doyle, Mark Lynch, Jamie Andrews, John Darcy, Aidan Morris, Daniel Kavanagh and Eoghan Doyle gear up for Wednesday’s party at Connolly’s Pub, 121 West 45th Street.
Brian Zak/NY Post
The empty bar at The Wicked Monk in New York City
New York City went into lockdown days before St. Patrick’s Day in 2020 due to COVID. “It feels like we’re going back to normal. It feels like we’re back home,” said Megan Wynne, manager of Wicked Monk, pictured here.
Courtesy of @wickedmonk

But many are ready to celebrate. Up in the Bronx, An Béal Bocht Cafe manager Bronagh Harmon told The Post that this year’s celebrations will feature live music for the first time since the pandemic began.

“This is a big, big comeback for the city,” Harmon said.

A customer takes a sip of beer at an Irish pub in Chelsea on St. Patrick's Day on March 17, 2021 in New York City
St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Thursday this year and celebrations are expected to last all weekend.
Getty Images

The bar is also ready to welcome the return heralded as the “World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” which spans 47 steps from one bar door to the other. The annual parade normally raises money to feed the homeless, but this year funds are being diverted to World Central Kitchen to support Ukrainian refugees.

The big St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City is also taking place again this year after a two-year break. According to organizers, it is the oldest and largest parade of its kind in the world.

Harmon hopes the return to a normal St. Patrick’s Day celebration will give locals a much-needed opportunity to let go.

“Forget your problems for the next three or four days,” she said. “You can take care of it on Monday.”

Paddy Maguire, who owns Paddy Maguire’s Ale House in Gramercy, had similar advice.

“Get out there. Go to the parade. Have fun and check every bar and make sure mine is one of them,” said the 62-year-old, who opened his eponymous bar in 1995. “But don’t get too drunk — I will don’t have you here last stop. I want you here in between.”

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