Syracuse celebrates 60th annual Green Beer Sunday at Coleman's
St. Patrick's Day may be several weeks away but people in Syracuse, New York kick off the season early with parades, live music and green beer. At the 60th annual Green Beer Sunday everyone is Irish for the day.
On a chilly Sunday morning, the line to enter Coleman's, an Irish Pub in Tipperary Hill stretches up the hill to the city's upside-down stop light — where proud Irish immigrants in the 1920s would break the light because they wanted their nationality on top of the British red.
Today, thousands in a sea of green, wearing kilts, four-leaf clover cowboy hats and shamrock temporary tattoos celebrate by toasting with pitchers of beer.
It starts with a parade with Irish dancers, bagpipes and even a Miss Green Beer. A 10,000-gallon tanker truck filled with green beer arrives at the end of the parade. That beer will be sold through St. Patrick's Day.
Michael and Mary Kay Ryan met at Peter Coleman's pub 14 years ago. They celebrated their wedding there and today they are the Grand Marshals in the roughly two-block-long parade.
"When my dad was Grand Marshal in 2006, he wore this very tie that Peter Coleman gave him with the green beers on it," Michael Ryan said. "I only wore this once since then, I wore to Peter Coleman's funeral. It's a big tradition. It's a big honor for me to carry on my dad's tradition and Peter Coleman's tradition."
Peter Coleman invented the holiday. Because he always had to work St Patrick's, he picked a Sunday to ring in the season with some friends and each year the event grew. His daughter Beth said this year, the pub launched a beer in his memory.
"He is so with us in spirit," Beth Coleman Deehan said. "I know he is smiling down on this at this tradition, and he'll always be with us. This will carry on in his honor.
Jean Doner is a former Green Beer Sunday Marshal and has been coming to Coleman’s since 1957.
"It's unbelievable to believe what this has turned into and people from all over not just the neighborhood like it once was," Doner said.
She remembers some of the early Green Beer Sundays with Peter Coleman.
"I'm not quite sure we believed that it was real green beer," Doner laughed. "But we kind of went along with Peter knowing that he was out in the other room pouring food coloring in."
As for what makes the beer green now?
"That's a secret," Michael Ryan said. "Nobody tells any of that."
"Only the leprechauns can tell you about that," Miss Green Beer Margaret Cacchione said.
"It's an old secret that we're not allowed to talk about," Beth Coleman Deehan said. "It's been a tradition for so long. It's a special family secret."
As St Patrick's Day approaches, Syracusans will continue to ring in the season with more parades, celebrations and of course green beer.