Sask. St. Patrick's Day celebrations adapting to COVID-19 restrictions
REGINA -- St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Saskatchewan have been forced to adapt in 2021 to abide by provincial health orders.
Shannon's Pub & Grill is hosted its annual St. Patrick's Day celebration on Wednesday.
The owners said planning came with its challenges but they're happy to be open. They look forward to when they will be able to bring back their beloved Irish traditions.
"That's a big factor in our culture is the live music and stuff like that," owner of Shannon's, Brian Fagan said. "We're glad we're open but it's a different vibe, you know, we just have to go with it."
Shannon's Pub & Grill saw lineups of patrons waiting to get a table throughout the day on Wednesday. The Irish pub said it's adhering to all the COVID-19 restrictions and staff will be ensuring patrons are following the rules throughout the day.
One group who came to the pub on Wednesday got a ride from the bus at their senior housing complex.
The group was supposed to go to Safeway along 13th Avenue for groceries, but went to Shannon's instead. For them, it's a weekly tradition.
"Rush through and get our shopping and then we can come here and have a drink," Nancy Michleborough said.
Garth Murray, Nancy Mickleborough, Bob Petrovitch, Darlene Balkwill (left to right) celebrate St. Patrick's Day on the Shannon's Pub and Grill patio. (Cally Stephanow/CTV News)
"It's nice to get out and see some people around," Bob Petrovitch said. "We're out here having some fun and having a few laughs."
'CHRISTMAS FOR IRISH DANCERS'
Historically, St. Patrick's day is a day for Irish dance groups to showcase their routines in front of restaurants and pubs full of an excited audience.
Living Skies Irish Dance is show casing its routines virtually this year.
"I often call [St. Patrick's Day] Christmas for Irish Dancers," owner of Living Skies Irish Dance, Emily Armer said. "On St. Patrick's Day, everyone celebrates their inner Irish their inner Celt, whether they actually have Irish heritage or not. It's just an opportunity for everyone to come together, celebrate the joy of music, the joy of dancing, and being together and that spirit of camaraderie."
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all dance recitals have been suspended for the time being. The dancers are still allowed to practice together, but must remain three meters apart from each other.
Armer knew her young dancers still wanted to perform this St. Patrick's Day, so she filmed the routines to be shared with families and senior homes.
"Touch of normalcy for them given the changes that we've all experienced over the year," Armer said.
Sophie Houchen is 11-years-old and has been dancing for several years. She said the dance routines are slightly different now because of the restrictions, but she is thrilled to be able to dance with her group again.
Sophie Houchen, 11, performs an Irish dance routine virtually.
"It's exciting because it's been a long time to dance together," she said.
Ellie Crawford is seven-years-old and has been dancing since she was four. She is very happy to be back in the studio again.
"I like doing my dances," Crawford said.
Armer, who was instructing at a different dance studio in Regina last St. Patrick's Day, said she still remembers when COVID-19 arrived in Saskatchewan and how that changed the celebrations.
"The last 14 years I've been organizing the pub crawls and hitting up all of the pubs in the city with the Irish dancers and last year that was in place and then Coronavirus hit and we had to sort of temper everything," Armer said. "This year, knowing in advance that we wouldn't be able to go out into the pubs, looking at what we could do with the kids and still have some fun."