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In York, merchants seeing green this week

St. Patrick's Day, both the parade and the day itself, bring good business to White Rose City merchants

Every day her stand is open is a busy one for Annette Fisher at the hugely popular Bair’s Chicken stand at York’s Central Market.

But there’s one day she particularly looks forward to, the one where she serves dishes with Guinness on them and an otherwise strongly Irish theme … even the Dutch potatoes.

It’s when York holds its annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which the White Rose City did on Saturday, a day “that gives all kinds of people a chance to come downtown and see what a great city we have,” said Fisher, who with her husband Lance bought Bair’s from the original owners in 2007.

Some 15,000 people attended the parade, York police estimated, giving the city, not to mention its downtown merchants, an economic boost.

The parade has turned into a great day business-wise for York restaurants, some of which report their single busiest day of the year.

That’s since parade organizers don’t have street vendors, instead encouraging parade visitors to try York’s restaurants and shops.

And even with the parade now finished for another year, York is only half of the way through celebrating all things Irish.

This Thursday is the actual St. Patrick’s Day, of course, and downtown officials “see a lot of people playing hooky on March 17 and enjoying time in our bars and restaurants,” said Meagan Feeser of the York city betterment organization Downtown Inc.

Some downtown eateries are offering specials, Feeser noted, and downtown Yorkers hope it will keep the spirit of Saturday’s parade going through the week.

Parade day is always one of the busiest days overall for York’s Central Market, where many of the stands on Saturday were selling Irish-themed food, and there also was Celtic music and a wee bit of Irish dance.

“I can’t say enough about the impact the parade has on downtown, especially when the weather is nice,” said Feeser, Downtown Inc’s marketing director. Saturday was warmer than usual, although the expected sunshine didn’t make an appearance.

“While our retail shops don’t always directly see a benefit on parade day, the thousands of people who flood our downtown get to see what great shopping we have downtown, and hopefully return,” Feeser said.

Saturday’s was the 33rd annual parade for York. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, a volunteer organization with some 12 members, took over operations of the annual event from the City of York in 1999.

“The parade is just 90 minutes long, but it really lasts all day,” said one of the organizers, Mary Yeaple, just ahead of the event.

Maybe even until St. Patrick’s Day itself.

David O'Connor
Dave O'Connor covers York County, manufacturing, higher education, nonprofits, and workforce development. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at doconnor@cpbj.com.

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