Optimism high as Triangle bars and restaurants gear up for St. Patrick’s Day

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RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) — The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Raleigh is a sign that the capital is making a comeback.

“We are delighted,” said Wes Alexander, general manager of the Hibernian on Glenwood South. “Everyone is very excited. Everything is about to get back to normal.”

Glenwood Avenue will be closed in front of the bar on Saturday so that pipers, beer tents and Irish dancers can entertain people after the parade.

Parts of Raleigh’s entertainment district were closed in various locations last year to allow more restaurants to set up tables outside to accommodate more customers as fewer people were willing to dine outside interior.

This year it’s just for the festivities.

“It’s already started,” Alexander said. “I think everyone is ready to get out of the house. That’s a good thing.”

The feeling of optimism also carries over to Chapel Hill, especially after crowds of UNC fans rushed to Franklin Street after the Tar Heels upset Duke in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final game at the Cameron Indoor Stadium.

“I can’t tell you what Saturday night was like – it was amazing,” said Kristian Bawcom, owner of Four Corners. “The optimism is there. It’s been a roller coaster ride, but I think we’re getting ready to have the fun that comes with it.”

The same goes for fellow Franklin Street business owner Robert Poitras. He said his lunch crowd had returned and people had asked to be served and to book big parties again.

“The atmosphere is excellent,” said Poitras. “Business has been very good here in town, especially in the last couple of months. It’s coming back strong. We think it’s going to be a great summer for business.”

Doctors say it’s important to be vigilant and respect people’s decisions about whether they should mask or whether they’re comfortable returning to crowded spaces.

“There’s a risk of infection, a risk of social isolation, and we’ve seen the results of both,” said Dr. Lisa Pickett, chief medical officer at Duke University. “We have to think about saying it’s okay for people if they don’t feel comfortable going to large crowds right now.”

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