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Published: March 8th 2010
St. Patrick’s Day Party & Parade on Cabarete Beach
The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in the Western Hemisphere was in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1737. The second, and now by far the largest, started in New York City in 1762. The one here in Cabarete, Dominican Republic, is eight years old. It may not be the biggest or the oldest, but it is on the beach and that makes it the best.
It is organized by Jose O’Shay’s Irish Pub, the starting point of the parade.
The St. Paddy’s Day celebration officially starts at 11:00 AM, but some of the Irish-for-a-day show up early to lie on the lounges on the beach and eat breakfast brought to them by O’Shay’s waitresses. Breakfast brought to you on a lounge, in the sun, next to the surf --- how can you go wrong?
By 11:00, the staff has started handing out free green hats and leis. T-shirts are for the buying. The entertainment begins with an Irish band and Irish Step Dancing and by the time the end of the party comes at 4:00 AM, it also will have gone through Blues, Jazz, and R & R.
Irish Lunch & Dinner on the Beach
Bangers and Mash, O'Reuben Sandwich, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Guinness Stout --- and its all on the beach. How can you go wrong?
Party-goers will swill down Irish Stew (There’s another kind?), Shepard’s Pie, Corned Beef & Cabbage, O’Reuben Sandwiches and Bangers and Mash. For those of you who are neophytes to Irish cuisine, bangers are a type of sausage, in this case, grilled and served with mashed potatoes. O’Shay’s wants you to have it authentic, so they import it from Ireland.
They got 17 Beers to wash down the food including Guinness, Harp Lager, Duvel and La Benedicta, and a local drink called mamajuana. Its ingredients are a combination local herbs aged a couple of months with red wine, rum and honey. It is supposed to make men more manly, understand?
The O’Shay’s bartenders invented some drinks to go with the occasion — designed to pack a punch. First, is the Million Peso Irishman. This mixes Bailey’s Irish Whiskey with Frangelico, Amaretto, Kahlua, Rum, Tia Maria, Grand Marnier, coffee and whipped cream. If that doesn’t make you fall down, this will: the Paddywhacker. It has 151 rum, plus dark rum, light rum, vodka, Bailey’s, Frangelico, Amaretto, and coconut cream. Tastes good, goes down easy and after the second one, it will make you forget.
The parade starts at two
o’clock, which is a good thing, because at this point you’re gonna wanna walk it off — either the food or the booze. Everybody participates. It marches northeast up the palm-lined beach in the direction of Ireland — bare feet in the sand, sometimes washed by the surf. It’s much better than head in the cold and feet in the slush.
At the head of the serpentine group is an Irish bagpiper flown in from Ireland, the grand marshal and Frank Brittingham, the founder of O’Shay’s and the organizer of the parade along with his son Michael. Behind them are banners and flags, a girls’ cheerleading group, a few other marching societies, and the rest of us. We march to the end of the beach, make a u-turn and return hoopin’ and a hollerin’ to the parade tent and bar to have another drink.
At this point a little advice is in order to help you survive the day: don’t drink and swim. If you fall down on the sand, you get mercy because the sand is soft and will not give you a bump on the head like cement will in some pace like New York. But
you fall down in the water, there is no mercy, you get a lung full of water. So if you do insist on drinking and swimming, have a designated swimmer preferably with Red Cross Life Saver training who does not drink so he can save your ass.
Frank Brittingham is real Irish. He migrated from Ireland to the United States when he was 17 and got a job at a bar in Philadelphia. He saved his tips, bought that bar and opened four others over the years. He sold the lot of them and sensibly moved to the Caribbean where he opened Molly Molone’s Irish Dockside Pub in Red Hook, at the east end of St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands. That was 20 years ago.
Frank came to Cabarete about ten years ago to open O’Shay’s. Michael likes to tell the story that when they were looking at the shell of the building on the beach and wondering how they were gong to design it, an Englishman wandered through. He asked, what are you going to open? Frank said, “An Irish Pub.” “It will never work,” said the Englishman. It has worked, and worked very
well ever since.
If you live nearby, or if you can jet it here, go to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Party on Cabarete Beach in the heart of the Dominican Republic’s North Coast.
This you’re gonna love.
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