March 26 2009 12:00 AM

Getting down with Lansing on the most stereotypical of holidays.


At 6:48 a.m., there was no line at Brannigan Brothers in downtown Lansing. I know downtown doesn’t have the bar scene of an East Lansing (where, one Brannigan patron said, he drove past Dublin Square at 6:50 and saw students literally banging on the door to get in) but, really, we expected more. There were two 20-something men waiting outside, shivering in the doorway.

Just when it seemed the morning was a bust, a white 15-passenger van rolled up parallel to the curb, and out hopped — no joke — four leprechauns. They were decked out in fake beards, head to toe green, blazers, hats and the whole nine yards. They even brought with them a plastic, garden-gnomish leprechaun, "Little Jake."

The gang of leprechauns has celebrated St. Patrick’s Day together for the last 10 years, they said, with one — Jake Houston — making the drive from West Palm Beach, Fla., to keep the tradition alive.

At opening time, there were seven people inside Brannigan’s. Within 15 minutes, that number had tripled, at least. Maybe it was the smell of the breakfast buffet or the irresistible lure of green beer before sunrise.

It was still dark outside when the first round of green beers are served.

"It feels like 7 at night," said Dan Fulgham, facilities manager at Brannigan Brothers.

General Manager Ken Watanabe said he expected the crowd to grow throughout the day.

"People kind of sneak down here from work," he said with a smile. He added that he didnt expect the faltering economy to have any impact on the sales numbers for the bar, noting that people always seem to have the money to drink on St. Patricks Day.

After a bite of the breakfast buffet, it was off to Xcel, which advertised $1 drafts all day and green eggs and ham. The only patrons when I stopped in were two workers who expected things to really get cooking as the day went on. Kellys and The Firm, both of which are located in downtown Lansing, opened later than Brannigan Brothers and expected to have a crush of customers toward the afternoon and evening.

Later in the morning and farther away down Michigan Avenue, Moriaritys Pub and Stobers were both reasonably busy — busier than a normal Tuesday afternoon, at least. In Stobers John Dorcy took a break from his shuffleboard
game to explain that he and his three friends were on a pub crawl
reminiscent of those organized in his hometown of Port Huron. His
friend interrupted to inform us that Dorcy was "the most Irish person
in this bar," a conclusion they arrived at after some on-the-fly
genetic testing.

Not to rain on Dorcys parade, but next door at
Moriaritys, there was a man who would only give his name as "St.
Patrick," and he was certainly dressed for the part. Imagine the Pope,
add green, and you have the idea.

Even farther down Michigan Avenue,
the doorman at the Green Door said that despite opening at 7 a.m., the
first customers didnt roll through until 8 a.m. Since then, they were
busy, but not swamped, something the doorman attributed to the holiday
falling on a Tuesday.

Inside was a group of four (it seems
most revelers were out in groups of four), who had been holding down
the bar since 9 a.m., consisting of a man wearing an Irish flag as a
cape and several folks adorned with multiple strands of green Mardi
Gras beads layered Mr. T-style.

A quick jaunt to Old Town
found The Unicorn hosting a few folks at the bar after a busy morning
and the Chrome Cat staff enjoying a lull in the action.

it was off to East Lansing, which was, well, about what youd expect.
Some might call it a living hell.

There was a noticeable (and
pleasantly courteous) police presence, students wandering the streets
(and front lawns), and the obligatory loud drunk girl, yelling, "I am
so fucking wasted!"

It was a veritable sea of green, between the
holiday-themed gear and the Michigan State University paraphernalia.
Every bar we visited on the strip was filled to near capacity, and at 3
p.m., the city was relatively calm. The police told us to come back
tonight, when there would surely be more potential for trouble.

took a pass on that to attend our own party, "Flirting With Disaster,"
after a nap and another cup of coffee, because — if we could for a
second conjure Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon — were too old for this.