AVON LAKE — When St. Patrick’s Day reaches the late afternoon, the day still is young for many celebrating the holiday, but Sober Seventeenth offered an alternative to the bar-crawl scene.
On Sunday, the sixth annual three-hour event had its biggest turnout, with more than 400 people enjoying the family-friendly atmosphere at Ahern’s Banquet Center.
Jack Kilroy, director and founder of the event, said he wanted something for people to do besides drink alcohol on St. Patrick’s Day.
“For people that don’t drink alcohol or people in recovery or people that choose not to drink on St. Patrick’s Day, the idea is not to suffer in self-denial, the idea of recovery is to enjoy life and good quality of life, to have fun,” he said.
Kilroy also received a senatorial citation from Ohio Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights, at the event. Yuko, who is Kilroy’s cousin, commended him for providing an opportunity to celebrate Irish culture while promoting health and safety.
Along with Irish and international foods, the event featured performances by singers James Kilbane and The McNamaras and dancers from the Brady-Campbell School of Irish Dance.
Sober Seventeenth is presented this year by The LCADA Way, which in the past was just a sponsor. Joe Matuscak, director of marketing, development and communication for The LCADA Way, said the event aligns perfectly with his organization’s message of overcoming alcohol and substance abuse.
“Reaching out to our constituents has brought a greater audience to this,” he said. “And it’s really promoting St. Patrick’s Day in the tradition without alcohol is really what it comes down to.”
Cleveland resident James Watson attended the event with his wife while dressed in a traditional Scottish kilt. Although the day was traditionally a celebration for Irish Roman Catholics, Watson said he enjoys it as a time to celebrate Irish heritage while being proud of his own Scottish heritage.
Both cultures suffered famine in the mid-1800s, during which time many residents of Ireland and Scotland emigrated to other countries, so Watson said St. Patrick’s Day offers a chance to celebrate his connection with the Irish.
“It’s a rich and varied culture as all the music and dance and everything shows,” he said. “I like coming here and getting some of my Celtic culture without having to deal with all the alcohol.”