Where Paddy Murphy is from, St. Patrick’s Day is usually observed by attending church and spending time with family.
“It’s more of a peaceful day there,” Murphy said of his home country, Ireland.
In Naples, the annual parade draws thousands and the green beer flows on one of the most profitable weekends for Murphy’s namesake Irish pub on Fifth Avenue South.
“It’s probably 100 percent bigger than most holidays other than New Year’s Eve,” Murphy said.
St. Patrick’s Day is the single highest sales day for Irish pubs in Naples and one of the busiest drinking holidays for area liquor stores. IBISWorld, a market research company, estimates that the $28.2 billion United States breweries industry will earn about $282 million in revenue from St. Patrick’s Day sales alone.
Each year the Naples parade, held on a Saturday close to March 17, which is the actual holiday, draws nearly 40,000 people who frequent downtown bars and restaurants.
Paddy Murphy’s Irish Pub opens early the day of the parade at 8 a.m. and closes at 2 a.m. Corned beef and cabbage and green beer will be served all day and all night.
“You have to do the green beer,” Murphy said. “People want it. It’s a staple of some people.”
Murphy staffs extra security to keep customers in check.
“The main thing is celebrating in style and having fun and no trouble,” he said.
The parade doesn’t just benefit Irish bars. The influx of foot traffic that day benefits anyone selling food and drink.
“Folks are standing around wanting to relax or get something quick,” said Lise Sundrla, executive director of the Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District.
Sundrla said St. Patrick’s Day benefits sellers of food and drink in the same way Valentine’s Day benefits sweets shops and jewelry stores. Christmas is the biggest holiday for Fifth Avenue South as a whole, she said.
St. Patrick’s Day is just as big for Phil McCabe, owner of the Inn on Fifth and McCabe’s Irish Pub on Fifth Avenue South.
For the parade each year, McCabe rents out Sugden Plaza next door to serve drinks and food all day. He pays the theater not to hold shows that night to avoid noise conflicts, and works months ahead to secure state and city permits to serve alcohol outside his restaurant.
For the past 15 years, he’s staffed extra security to keep drinkers in the plaza and not out on the street, he said.
Paying for the plaza, the permits and the staff can be expensive, McCabe said.
“We’re almost like a farmer in the sense that we’re dependent upon the weather,” he said. “We’ve had years we’ve been rained out and it’s been very costly.”
The holiday is also a big sales day for local liquor stores, which see a spike in alcohol sales in the days leading up to March 17.
Jay Boyle, assistant manager for Total Wine & More on Airport-Pulling Road, said St. Patrick’s Day is in the top five holidays for the store, with at least 25 percent more sales than the average weekend.
Boyle said the store prepares by stocking the essentials: Irish whiskey, specialty beers such as Guinness and Harp Lager, and cordials such as Baileys Irish Cream.
“We keep enough kegs on hand, too,” Boyle said.