Coast readers: St. Patrick’s Day cheer alive, but waning in Halifax | News | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST
Street partygoers gather for St. Patrick's Day in Halifax in 2022.

Coast readers: St. Patrick’s Day cheer alive, but waning in Halifax

More than two thirds of readers polled say they plan to avoid the celebrations completely. Meanwhile, is Dal in for a HoCo redux?

How green will Halifax be under a blanket of St. Patrick’s Day snow? Perhaps not very green at all, if The Coast’s latest poll results prove true. This week, we asked you to share your St. Paddy’s traditions. The results? Turns out most of you would be happy to skip the holiday entirely. Nearly seven in 10 Coast readers who voted on our website say they plan to avoid the clover-leafed celebrations completely, while about one in nine Twitter followers who voted say their celebrations might include a green beer—but that’s it.

Those who wrote in offered a mix of responses. On Twitter, Coast reader Kate writes that usually they “just put a few shamrock decorations up at work,” whereas Coast reader Jenna writes that as a “redhead in a university town… St. Patrick’s Day was never a fun time.”

Coast reader Frank R. offered four words: “Need medical attention WAITING.” Which means Frank is either planning to get really blitzed, or is one of the 137,587 Nova Scotians waiting for primary care. (Or both!) Please take care, Frank.

What will Dal’s ShamHoCo street parties look like?

For Dalhousie University, St. Patrick’s Day is known as one of its “trouble periods” for students having street parties, and a year ago ShamHoCo—a shamrock-tinged version of the notorious fall Homecoming—brought crowds to the residential neighbourhood around Dal’s Studley campus. And still the parties keep happening.

Last October, in the wake of a Dal Homecoming that ended in a stabbing, reports of pepper spray and police putting out a bonfire on Larch Street, the university’s then-president, Deep Saini, scolded students who disregarded Dal’s warnings about “illegal street parties” taking place off-campus. In a public memorandum, Saini called the weekend’s HoCo street parties—which drew an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 partygoers on Larch and Jennings Streets—“high-risk and destructive,” and ones that “force communities… to bear the brunt” of the aftermath “without any sense of responsibility from the organizers and students engaged in these acts.”

In his remarks, Saini pointed to a recently-commissioned report on addressing Dal’s “street party culture.” That report doesn’t leave Dal administration off the hook: It notes that both students and neighbouring residents have “regularly” suggested that Dalhousie should host more on-campus activities, and that students should be involved in planning those activities.

That echoes what readers have shared with The Coast: “Unless they are given somewhere else to party, this will never stop,” Hannah wrote on Instagram.

click to enlarge Coast readers: St. Patrick’s Day cheer alive, but waning in Halifax
Dal Gazette
A 2017 Homecoming party overflowed from the streets up onto the roofs of some houses.

That same feeling seems to permeate the HRM council. Speaking with The Coast in October, Halifax councillor Waye Mason—who lives in the city’s south end—challenged the university on its lack of licensed events and past policies barring alcohol in student residences: “It's not a valid harm reduction strategy to tell young people who don't have a lot of experience with living independently and, you know, drinking and all that stuff, to go wander around the streets of the neighbourhood rather than stay where they live,” Mason said. “So Dal’s really got to look into its heart and soul and examine these policies and change them.”

Dal’s events page lists several goings-on planned for Friday, including a visiting chemistry speaker and a violin masterclass presentation—but no on-campus parties or concerts. In an emailed statement on Thursday afternoon, Dalhousie’s associate director of media relations, Janet Bryson, tells The Coast that Dal will be hosting pancake breakfasts in all of its campus meal halls, along with a range of other programs, including harm reduction booths offering snacks, water and support on where students can go if they need help. Bryson further mentions that Dal has made “significant efforts” to communicate “expectations around St. Patrick’s Day” to its students, and that it’s working with the HRM on event response.

click to enlarge Coast readers: St. Patrick’s Day cheer alive, but waning in Halifax
The Coast
Partygoers gather in Halifax's south end on Saturday, March 18, 2023.

Where to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Halifax

If you’re still looking for a St. Paddy’s party, there is no shortage of Halifax happenings. Here are a few of The Coast’s picks for Friday:

  • St. John’s-based folk group The Irish Descendants play at the Light House Arts Centre (1800 Argyle Street). Tickets are $45 at the door. Show starts at 8pm.
  • The Marquee Ballroom (2037 Gottingen Street) is hosting an evening Cape Breton St. Patrick’s Day Party, with performances by The Tom Fun Orchestra, Carmen Townsend & The Shakey Deals, Rachel Davis & Darren McMullin and Them Barrens. Tickets are $40 at the door. Music starts at 8:30pm.
  • The Halifax Central Library is hosting an early evening performance by the Daiga Irish Dancers. All ages are welcome. Starts at 5pm.
  • Fiddler extraordinaire Ashley MacIsaac is playing at the Admiral Club (106 Leiblin Drive). Tickets are $40. Music starts at 8:30pm.
  • Serpent Brewing (5 Sussex Street) is celebrating its 2nd anniversary and St. Patrick’s Day, with live music from Bill Allan and Greg Gale. $10 at the door.

Still eager for more? Browse our events calendar for more listings.

—With files from Kyle Shaw and Kaija Jussinoja

About The Author

Martin Bauman

Martin Bauman, The Coast's News & Business Reporter, is an award-winning journalist and interviewer, whose work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Calgary Herald, Capital Daily, and Waterloo Region Record, among other places. In 2020, he was named one of five “emergent” nonfiction writers by the RBC Taylor Prize...
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