By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Mar 17, 2009 at 6:00 PM Photography: Whitney Teska

One of the small perks of my job at is my office that I share with the rest of the editorial team. It's a big, bright sunny room with three gigantic windows that overlook the hub of the East Side: the intersection of North and Farwell Avenues.

Today those windows offered me a bird's eye view of the St. Patrick's Day parade -- not the one through Downtown, but rather the throngs of green-clad day drinkers parading down the sidewalk yelling, chatting and singing (and I swear I heard the sound of bagpipes in the distance. Bobby Tanzilo confirmed this.)

I waited until the afternoon to officially scope out the green scene, first at The Irish Pub, 124 N. Water St., and then at Slim McGinn's, 338 S. 1st St.

The shenanigans started early at The Irish Pub and when I arrived early afternoon, The Pure Drops, a guitar, banjo and mandolin trio, was in full swing and so was the crowd.

What is normally a mixed group comprising Third Ward young professionals, MIAD students and regulars had turned into a swaying sea of Irish-for-the-day.

It was music to owner Johnny Duggan's ears. Duggan was born and raised in England but he's first-generation Irish. He moved to Milwaukee in 2003 and opened The Irish Pub in September 2006. Prior to moving here he lived in Chicago and had this to say about the way they celebrate the holiday versus us: "I think Milwaukee's more real. People just have a good time. In Chicago they dye the river green and I think it's just a bit too much."

As for his day's plan, he promises "a lot of drinking, a lot of good Irish entertainment and good old Irish humor." And perhaps a Leprechaun slider or two.

I chatted with Nicole Henzel, a teacher who started her day with a bowl of Lucky Charms before teaching her American students about St. Patrick.

"In class today we talked about why people wear green on St. Patrick's Day. The kids thought it was because green is an Irish color."

What's the real reason, I asked?

"Honestly, I don't remember."

Cheers to you, Nicole!

The back patio started getting pretty packed so I headed down the road to Slim McGinn's where I found myself at a table of pure Irish young-at-hearts. William Thompson -- who informs me that his last name is the 49th most popular in Ireland -- was drinking black and tans with his wife Mary Ellen and two of his six siblings. The group's been coming to Slim's every St. Patrick's Day for the last decade because their nephew is the bar manager.

"We get here at 10 a.m. and stay until we get hungry," says Thompson. "Then it's off to O'Sullivans -- always with a designated driver."

This group had more energy than I did at this point in the day and they were easily three times my age. They certainly had more beads than I did.

So do all American cities whoop it up like us, or are we just Milwaukeeans celebrating like only a true Brew City partier can? It's interesting that real Irish don't do this in Ireland. My mom tells me they all go to church while we're busy praying to the beer gods.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”