Metro Detroiters celebrate St. Patrick's Day contrasting last year's shutdown

Ariana Taylor
The Detroit News

At first glance, things almost seemed normal at Rosie O' Grady's bar in Ferndale on St. Patrick's Day. 

There were cheers and toasts. There was dancing (with no dance floor or music playing) and high fives flowed around the room.

"I've already had five shots," a random voice yelled out from the intimate crowd at the bar on Nine Mile. . 

Yet the constant reminder of being in a pandemic hung in the air when a staff member would occasionally tell a customer to pull their mask up. 

Chris Graham of Huntington Woods wears his lucky hat as he enjoys a drink at Rosie O'Grady's in Ferndale on Wednesday, March 17, 2021. Max Ortiz, The Detroit News

More than a year since Michigan's first shutdown due to the virus that closed businesses and gathering spots and canceled celebrations, the pandemic hangs in the air. 

On Wednesday, some Metro Detroiters took advantage of the loosened restrictions and gathered in pews for religious ceremonies or on stools in pubs to mark the day, even then nodding to divine provenance.

"We're out here because we couldn't celebrate last year," said Dereck Williams, 32, of Ann Arbor. "If we're being honest, the only thing that could have stopped us from coming out today was God, the Lord himself."

Usually on St. Patrick's Day, O' Grady's would reach its 500-person capacity by early afternoon. A line of people would be wrapped around the corner and there would be DJ's inside the bar and outside near the patio. 

A local radio station would be outside giving away cash prizes topatrons. This year, the bar is open for business at 50% capacity. 

"We've had a lot of people drinking green beer, so that was actually something cool because we wasn't really sure if we were going to have that crowd or not, but everybody seems to be having a decent time," said Stephanie Collopy, Rosie O' Grady's general manager. "It's just a different time."

Every other table spaced out,  reservations were preferred over walk-ins and the staff had no tolerance for those without masks, Collopy said. 

Plastic cups were used to serve customers and there was a 90 minute time limit for each table. 

Allison Bondy (left) of Allen Park and Christina Gioffre wear their St. Patrick's Day colors at Rosie O'Grady's in Ferndale on Wednesday, March 17, 2021.

Despite all of the rules and restrictions, customers made the best of another pandemic St. Paddy's celebration. 

"Honestly, this is my first St. Patrick's Day in a very long time because I usually have to work, but today I'm hanging out with all my coworkers," said Allison Bondy, 31, of Allen Park. "Go big or go home, that's my motto for today."

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director, Elizabeth Hertel, posted safety measures for celebrators for spring holidays on Twitter. 

Instead of urging people not to celebrate the day, the health department advised people to celebrate in safe ways. 

The department suggested for people to choose only two households to see over the next three weeks, to make sure those households are also taking precautions and to limit the amount of time spent indoors with them. 

"We're happy to be open, happy to see people. It's kind of sad that it's definitely not what we're used to," Collopy said. "It just kind of hits us harder that this is our big day and it's not the same."

Not even Irish Societies Queen Claudia Rea seemed to impress one-year-old Marin Glendenning, with mother Katherine Glendenning, after the “Sharin’ O’ the Green” Mass on St. Patrick's Day at Most Holy Trinity Parish in Detroit.

After canceling last year's annual mass, Archbishop of Detroit Allen H. Vigneron celebrated the Most Holy Trinity Parish's annual “Sharin’ O’ the Green” Mass on Wednesday for the 186th year at the parish, located at 1050 Porter Street in Detroit. 

New this year were two Masses, at noon and 6 p.m., to accommodate parishioners while adhering to social distancing. Visitors who wanted to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland also were required to wear masks.

Sharin’ O’ the Green Mass on St. Patrick's Day at Most Holy Trinity Church in Detroit.