The Irish are lucky to have a whole day dedicated to them, during which they can drink (responsibly, of course) to their hearts' content. And Tucson's Irish (and Irish at heart) are especially lucky: They can enjoy a whole month of events celebrating their Irish heritage.
This year's month of festivities concludes in a big way, with the annual all-ages Tucson St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival. The parade will feature 10 to 15 different floats from such diverse organizations as Habitat for Humanity and the Tucson Roller Derby, according to Steven Dunn, the general manager of the Cup Café inside Hotel Congress, a St. Patrick's Day Festival sponsor.
"I've met a lot of people, and I'm learning there's a large Irish community," Dunn says of his St. Patrick's Day duties.
The goal of the festival and parade is to promote Irish heritage through dance, music, Celtic vendors, children's activities and food. "We have several fundraisers throughout the year ... to put on the parade, (and) we've been able to raise the money on our own," explains Dunn, who decided to sponsor the event this year because of his own Irish heritage, and because he enjoyed seeing the parade go by year after year.
After 5 p.m., the 21-and-up crowd can grab some pints and jam to live music at Club Congress' St. Patrick's Day Hooley.
All the proceeds from the day's events will go to Shop With a Cop. The program assists needy children age 6-12 who have been selected by a teacher, officer or counselor to shop with a police officer for clothing. --L.A.
Two years ago, the Outreach Art Tutoring for Seniors (OATS) program took off at The Drawing Studio.
"We were doing so well with kids that we wanted to expand to the older crowd," says OATS program director Pat Dolan. "... It's not too late to draw."
The Drawing Studio takes a particular interest in working with underserved populations in Tucson, according to Dolan. Therefore, the senior program was a good fit. About 200 senior citizens have participated in it so far, Dolan says.
The OATS classes are eight weeks long, pairing students and art tutors (who supply materials such as watercolors, pencils and charcoal) for an hour and a half per session. Classes take place at 22 different sites throughout Tucson, including libraries, retirement homes and community centers, in an effort to reach students who are not able to come to The Drawing Studio.
"We teach them how to draw from observation; we don't baby-sit. We really teach," says Dolan.
Dolan has experience working with senior citizens as a social worker for the Area Agency on Aging in Pinal County. He says the OATS program gives the students a feeling of camaraderie and confidence, and can give them something to look forward to by getting them out of the house.
OATS' first show is a comprehensive gathering of all the works from students and their tutors since the program began.
"You can't look at this work and see it's made by someone who is 60 or 70," says Dolan. "You can't differentiate (the work) from (work by) someone who is 40. You would be amazed at the quality of work."
Admission is free. --L.A.
Tucson seems to have only two seasons: summer, and something called "winter" that is generally not at all winter-like. The transition from "winter" to summer usually only takes days (in other words, 100-degree temperatures will be here before you know it)--and during those transition days, many of us enjoy spending time outside in celebration of the fact that it is not yet skin-sizzling time.
Kate Marquez, the executive director of the Greater Oro Valley Arts Council, says that her organization is celebrating the seasonal transition with the Second Annual Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Festival.
"Coming to the Arts and Cultural Festival is a great idea for all community members," Marquez boasts, adding that there is reason for excitement. "We will have the largest inflatable playground in Tucson up and running for the kids. We want there to be something for everyone at the festival."
Along with yards and yards of bouncy slides and games, the festival will host a long line of food vendors serving almost every type of fair food imaginable.
And then there's the music: Marquez lists numerous bands scheduled to perform, with polka (thanks to the Bouncing Czechs), jazz (from Dan Griffin) and a bevy of other musical genres represented. Marquez promises that the festival will be an event where "all cultures melt into one." There will even be showings of the film Music From the Inside Out, a documentary about the musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Admission is free, and parking is abundant. --L.L.
Carol Grubb, of Equine Voices Rescue and Sanctuary, says her organization has two very important goals.
First: Equine Voices wants you to know where two of the most popular menopause medications come from.
"The organization hopes to educate the community about the horse slaughterhouses and the origin of Prempro and Premarin," she says. Both drugs are derived from pregnant mares, and Grubb claims that the way in which the medication is derived is unethical.
Second: Equine Voices looks to save Prempro/Premarin mares and foals, as well as provide services to abused, abandoned and starving horses.
"We try to save horses from the slaughterhouses," she says, adding that many people are unaware of the dangers that horses--especially Prempro/Premarin mares--face.
The organization, of course, needs to offset the costs associated with helping the horses, and does so with special fundraising events. One of those fundraising happenings: this year's fifth annual A Very Special Horse Event, happening this weekend at Brandi Fenton Memorial Park. As in previous years, this year's event will feature a range of activities and workshops.
"We will have training demonstrations and raffles, and a few of the horses that we have rescued will also be there," explains Grubb.
Guests can participate in a raffle, with chances to win prizes (including gift certificates to various local restaurants and companies) donated by generous locals.
"We like to draw in as many people as possible to our events, because we want to get the word out about what we do for these horses," Grubb says.
Admission is $5, which includes one raffle ticket; kids 15 years old and younger get in for free. --L.L.