Syracuse’s Green Beer Sunday maintains tradition, celebrates memories

Green Beer Sunday maintains tradition, celebrates memories

Coleman's annual St. Patrick's Day holiday celebration picked up where it left off.
Published: March 7, 2022
A man throws shirts and other memorabilia from the Coleman's green beer tanker to the crowd of people waiting for the festivities to begin.
A man throws shirts and other memorabilia from the Coleman's green beer tanker to the crowd of people waiting for the festivities to begin in Tipperary Hill on Sunday.

As the tanker inched closer to the intersection of Tompkins Street and North Lowell Avenue, throngs of green-clad people swarmed with their hands in the air cheering.

They listened to the truck blare its horn before stopping. The crowd waited for the two words it had longed to hear since February 2019. A few minutes passed, and then…

“It’s tapped!” yelled a woman on the PA system.

The crowd erupted in applause. It was officially Green Beer Sunday in Tipperary Hill.

Coleman’s Authentic Irish Pub kicked off the beginning of what late owner Peter Coleman called “St. Patrick’s Day Season” a week later than scheduled due to inclement weather.

However, that didn’t deter locals from celebrating the annual tradition Sunday as patrons formed a line down Tompkins street, waiting for their chance to honor the season with some shamrock-green-colored beverages.

And people had a lot to honor this year, as this was the first Green Beer Sunday without its charismatic barkeeper, Peter Coleman, who passed away last summer.

“Peter Coleman has always been the biggest guy in this area,” local Mark Dempsey said. “He put the green on Tipperary Hill.”

Dempsey said he could absolutely feel Coleman’s presence during the celebration.

“The day of his passing, we took a picture on my cell phone, and there was a rainbow in the sky,” he said. “Right off the front porch of this building.”

“Today, look at this sunshine. Makes you believe.”

The weather was something that had to be felt to be believed Sunday, as temperatures hit highs in the low 70s and people were eager to enjoy it.

People line up at one of the many bars to refill their green-beer pitchers.

People line up at one of the many bars to refill their green-beer pitchers in Tipperary Hil on Sunday afternoon.

The line to get into Green Beer Sunday spanned two blocks down Tompkins Street.

The line to get into Green Beer Sunday spanned two blocks down Tompkins Street on Sunday.

Syracuse University graduate students Michael Scott and Hattie Hobart were among many who were enjoying the change of “winter” weather.

“I love it,” Scott said.  “I love the energy, and the weather is perfect.”

“That was the best decision ever to postpone it,” Scott said with a laugh.

Though, they both agreed they would have attended regardless of the snow, just because of the event’s popularity among locals.

“We were going to show up either way,” Hobart said.

“I have been told about green beer since August,” Scott said. “I’m just happy to be here.”

Last year’s event was scaled down due to Covid restrictions.

This year, however, began with the Green Beer Sunday Parade, which featured the Francis Academy of Irish Dance, Nibsy’s Pub, Syracuse Kiltie Pipe Band, 1911, and of course, the famous Coleman Green Beer tanker bringing up the rear. As is tradition, the two-block parade began at the green-over-red traffic light.

Bagpipers kick off the annual Green Beer Sunday Parade on Tompkins Street as groups behind them wave Ukrainian flags below the green-over-red traffic light.
Bagpipers kick off the annual Green Beer Sunday Parade on Tompkins Street as groups behind them wave Ukrainian flags below the green-over-red traffic light on Sunday afternoon.

“When that truck showed up, I couldn’t wait to get a cup,” Dempsey said with a laugh.

Among the sea of green, it was hard not to notice glimpses of the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag being waved from the crowd and groups in the parade.

Scott, who is Ukrainian, immediately picked up on the support the community has for one another.

“I think it’s great. I think that the local Ukrainian community absolutely rallies for each other and for supporting each other,” he said.

“We’re an immigrant community. We absolutely want to support our brothers and sisters and cousins who are in Ukraine who have not made it out,” Scott said. “I think it’s a tough time, but we rally for each other.”

Guests were treated to live music by the Mere Mortals in the Tipperary Square Pavilion, and there was no shortage of beverage or food choices, as people were treated to a plethora of options.

“You can’t beat the selection,” Syracuse local Gibson Stanczyk said.

This was her and her friend, Leah Brennan’s, first Green Beer Sunday, as they turned 21 during the pandemic. They were both amazed, and a little overwhelmed, with the large turnout but were happy to be a part of the 2022 celebration.

“It’s a lot, but I’m excited to see how the day progresses,” Stanczyk said.

They weren’t the only ones who were experiencing their first Green Beer Sunday.

Friends Todd Polly and Barbara Coriea beat the long lines for a drink early and enjoyed the celebration. Polly, a local, has lost count of the number of times he’s attended Green Beer Sunday. Coriea, who is from Brazil, experienced her first Coleman’s green-dyed beer.

“It’s very refreshing, but I was a little concerned,” Coriea said laughing, referencing the green nature of the beer. “It’s good actually.”

“It’s tradition,” Polly said.

As for tradition, there was no shortage of it on Tompkins Street, especially on Green Beer Sunday.

“I hope all these younger people understand who built this and the tradition that it brings,” Mark Dempsey said. “This is an incredible event.”

“Everybody’s Irish today,” Stanczyk said.

A new bench and statue commemorating the late owner of Coleman's Authentic Irish Pub and creator of Green Beer Sunday, Peter Coleman, sits on a parade trailer with a small Ukrainian flag in its hand on Tompkins Street.
A new bench and statue commemorating the late owner of Coleman's Authentic Irish Pub and creator of Green Beer Sunday, Peter Coleman, sits on a parade trailer with a small Ukrainian flag in its hand on Tompkins Street on Sunday.
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is a graduate student in the multimedia, photography, and design program, and the Visuals Lead Producer for The NewsHouse.