A new Wallet Hub study ranks Tampa ahead of New York and Chicago for cities in which to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. The financial website graded cities in its highly unscientific survey on the percentage of people with Irish heritage, number of festivities and parties for the day per person, along with the number of Irish pubs and restaurants per capita.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who is known for taking pride in his Irish heritage, said he was surprised to find that Tampa beat out major cities with a longer history of celebrations around St. Patrick's Day.
"We are the upstart, we are the ones who are hungry, we're coming after it, I think it may have been the green of our river that put us into contention," Buckhorn said.
Buckhorn started the Mayor's River O'green Festival, seeing how the city already celebrated Cinco de Mayo and Festa Italiana. This year, Saturday (March 19th) will be when he brings out the leprechauns to Curtis Hixon Park to dye the Hillsborough River green.
Buckhorn isn't the only one caught off guard by the study results. Dublin native John Nolan, who owns Molly Malone's Irish Pub on Tampa's Davis Islands, was surprised by Tampa's ranking.
"Yeah, I can't believe that," he said. "Is it true what you said, we're sixth in the country?"
For his part, Nolan is celebrating St. Patrick's Day on Thursday at his pub with Irish music all day long. That includes the Tampa Highlands Pipe Band in traditional dress, and artists from Cork and Dublin, Ireland.