PORTLAND – There was something in the air this St. Patrick’s Day in Portland — perhaps driven by the balmy temperatures and sunshine — that Portland police said put thousands of revelers in such a good mood that only two people were arrested for disorderly conduct.

Tradition dictates that to properly celebrate St. Patrick’s Day a person must imbibe large quantities of green beer at the risk of becoming inebriated.

And though there were plenty of intoxicated people wandering the streets of the Old Port, Portland police said that, for the most part, they were happy drunks.

“It was clear that there were a number of intoxicated people, but the overall mood was that people were happy,” said Lt. Scott Pelletier, who served as the Saturday night shift commander. “The air was filled with laughter most of the night.”

Portland police and bar owners said this was the first time in years that St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Saturday. When the holiday falls in the middle of the week, the crowds are smaller, especially if the weather is cold or rainy.

Lt. Gary Hutcheson said the department beefed up foot patrols in anticipation of trouble because the holiday fell on the weekend.

“The officers said the crowds were pretty friendly. It was an uneventful night for us,” Hutcheson said.

St. Patrick’s Day started with some bars opening at 6 a.m. to serve patrons beer and breakfast.

Doug Fuss owns Bull Feeney’s, one of the city’s three Irish pubs. He also serves as chairman of the Night Lights Oversight Committee, a group of business owners that deals with issues that affect the Old Port.

Fuss said committee members were worried about St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Saturday, realizing it could draw larger than normal crowds to the Old Port.

“I know that the legend throughout the United States is that St. Patrick’s is a day for fights and drinking, but it was nothing like that at all,” Fuss said. “The crowds were very well-behaved, so much so that we were all talking about it this morning (Sunday).”

Fuss attributes the fun and friendly atmosphere to the unseasonably warm, mild weather.

Patrons were waiting outside Brian Boru’s at 5 a.m., about an hour before the Irish pub opened, said Whitney Reynolds, a bartender.

“We had no problems. Everyone was in good spirits,” Reynolds said.

At Portland’s third Irish pub — Ri Ra’s — more than 300 ate breakfast following an early- morning swim at Portland’s East End Beach to raise funds for the Portland Fire Department’s burn foundation.

It just kept getting better as long lines formed outside the pub throughout the day, said Darci Hanson, an assistant manager.

“To be honest, we were wondering what sort of day we were in store for because St. Patrick’s Day hasn’t fallen on a Saturday since the mid-1980s,” Hanson said.

It was so busy that the Portland Ri Ra’s beat out its sister Ri Ra’s in Las Vegas, selling more Guinness stout and Irish breakfasts Saturday.

“It was a super amazing day,” Hanson said.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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