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March 08, 2015

How to survive the Erin Express

A guide to the Irish-themed bar crawl

Events Erin Express
Erin Express jbroconnor/Reddit

People celebrate outside of Cavanaugh's in University City for the Erin Express in 2014.

There is, understandably, a lot of concern about how the Erin Express, an event that now spans three Saturdays and the day of St. Patrick's Day as well, affects the city. But being a single, 22-year-old dude, I admittedly couldn't  resist the opportunity to participate. 

Saturday wasn't the first time I trekked to University City in a green hoodie and my Eagles hat for the annual extravaganza that celebrates St. Patrick's Day. And after attending the  drinking parade/debacle two years in a row, I've learned how to survive and actually enjoy the event. If you're heading out for the final Saturday of the event on March 14, here's some tips:

1. Do the free one

You can pay $40 for the one that ends with the "Running of the Micks." But if you're at an age where it's actually appropriate for you to participate, cash is probably tight. Instead, bar hop at the establishments that participate in the free version of the event from noon to 6 p.m. There's no covers, and buses will take you to the bars for free. 

2. Be courteous to the bar staff

The faces of the bouncers and bartenders each year of the event express an understandable amount of dread. Hundreds of drunk millennials fumbling for their ID at the door and clamoring for Irish car bombs every 5 minutes isn't exactly the dream scenario for these bars' staffs. Have your ID ready at the door to make the bouncer's life easier, and understand that the bartenders are trying to get everyone's orders. Oh, and tip your bartender. They deserve it. 

3. Bring cash

While there are no covers, it's easy to rack up a hefty bar tab when you use your card and are going from bar to bar. And the bars in University City aren't exactly the cheapest (I paid $5 for a Bud Light). Instead, make sure to stop at the ATM beforehand, and budget out a reasonable amount of cash to take with you. Trust me, you don't want to be waiting 30 minutes just to close your tab when you're ready to head out.

4. Avoid all confrontations 

I can't remember a time I was outside at the Erin Express and there wasn't a fight going on. It's almost a guarantee you'll see police breaking something up when you go. The last thing you want to do is engage with some guy who freaks out at you because you spilled a little Guinness on the green pants he bought at the thrift store specifically for today. Alcohol and reason are perpetually at odds, so just stick with your friends and kindly be on your way if someone tries to antagonize you.

5. Remember, everything ends up on the internet


That's me circa March 2014 getting ready for the event. While that's not necessarily the most damning picture, you can go ahead and search #ErinExpress on Twitter to see much worse. Just keep in mind that there's a good chance your buddy is photographing  your wonderful decision to attempt the Irish Jig to the tune of R. Kelly's "Ignition Remix."