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The 10: St. Patrick's Day parades, Live at O'Larkin, beards at Essex

1) St. Patrick's Day parade, begins at 2 p.m. March 18 in Niagara Square and continues north along Delaware Avenue. Free to attend.

Commentary: Employing a phrase of late college football announcer Keith Jackson, this parade is the "grand-daddy of them all," at least in terms of sheer size and participation.

Run by the United Irish-American Association, based on Abbott Road, the major parade is a special day for many Buffalonians, regardless of Irish ancestry.

It can be a challenge to find an unimpeded vantage point to enjoy the parade (from past experience, we wouldn't recommend hanging out near the Wendy's or Tim Hortons), so butter-up a friend who lives off Delaware or scope out a spot in advance. In recent years, police have cracked down on the city's open container law; be mindful of that.

Also noteworthy: this year's grand marshal of the Delaware Avenue parade has the first name Madonna.

[Related: Smiles at 2017 Delaware Avenue St. Patrick's Day Parade]

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2) 25th annual Old Neighborhood St. Patrick's Day Parade, noon March 17, beginning at the Valley Community Center (93 Leddy St.). Free to spectate. Here's the parade route. A "hooley" follows from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Valley Community Center, with music from Emerald Isle.

Commentary: On Saturday, feel the rich history of an older Irish community in Buffalo and avoid getting accidentally elbowed by high schoolers. (Nothing against you, high schoolers - you just have sharp, unpredictable elbows).

Snaking through the Old First Ward, the Old Neighborhood Parade will honor the lives of three key participants from the neighborhood's history - Bob Bouquard, Mike Harrington and Paul Simonick - while this year's grand marshal will be Jim Sumbrum Sr.

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3) Two remarkably short parades: World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade, 4:45 p.m. March 17 at Old Falls Street and Rainbow Boulevard in Niagara Falls. Following the extraordinarily brief (and free) walk, a party will roll from 5 to 10 p.m. in the Conference and Event Center (101 Old Falls St.). Cost is $9 in advance or $10 at the door, for the party.

Lackawanna St. Patrick's Day Parade, roughly 12:30 p.m. March 17, from Our Lady of Victory Basilica to Lackawanna City Hall. Free to participate. Free to participate.

Commentary: Concerned about parade stamina? Both Lackawanna and Niagara Falls don't want you to overexert yourself as they duel for the title of shortest parade route. According to The News' Jane Kwiatkowski Radlich, the Lackawanna version is a mere 98 steps, while Niagara Falls' is only 75.

But hey, one of these walks follows a church service, while the other precedes a party, so it's entirely up to you which to tackle.

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4) St. Patrick's Day at Ebenezer Ale House, 1 p.m. March 17 at 4348 Seneca St., West Seneca. An all-day event pass is available for $10 by calling 674-2337 or by visiting the restaurant.

Commentary: The West Seneca pub-restaurant has staked claim to perhaps the largest St. Patrick's Day party in the Southtowns. While it's billed as a concert - Kickstart Rumble (2 p.m.), the Greater Buffalo Firefighters Pipes and Drums (6 p.m.) and Dave Matthews Band tribute group The Dreaming Tree (7 p.m.) will all perform - the event is more well-rounded than that.

Expect beer from Rusty Nickel Brewing, Irish car bombs, a tent that's more than 6,000 square feet, Just Pizza's food trailer and ample giveaways and raffles.

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5) Live at O'Larkin, 5 to 8 p.m. March 16 in Larkin Square (745 Seneca St.). Free to attend, and free parking in the gravel lot at 111 Hydraulic St.

Commentary: One trait of Larkin Square you shouldn't overlook - the heated and covered boardwalk. Thanks to smart planning from the Zemskys, trying to determine if you can feel your nose is not an issue, and you'll be able to focus on performances by McCarthyizm, the Greater Buffalo Firefighters Pipes and Drums, and the Clann Na Cara Irish dancers.

For the first time in recent Live at O'Larkin history, the Filling Station - one of two major restaurants in Larkin Square - will be open to serve warm beverages and Irish food.

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6) Essex Street Pub Beard Competition, 7 to 11 p.m. March 17 at 530 Rhode Island St. Free to attend and participate; registration is from 8 to 9.

Commentary: Essex Street Pub owner James "Macky" Moberly hosts a lighthearted annual competition for "Best Beard" across at least two categories: Hibernator and Natural Box. Mustaches are also recognized.

In a series of Facebook posts, the owner suggests bringing a pair of clippers to improv in case there's a trophy left unclaimed. If you take your facial hair seriously, then posing with a trophy trumpeting your beard sounds rather glorious - and this is coming from someone who cannot grow facial hair appropriate for public viewing.

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7) Comedy Platinum Tour, 7 p.m. March 16 in Shea's Performing Arts Center (646 Main St.). Tickets range from $59 to $99 and may be purchased here.

Commentary: An evening of comedy takes over Shea's on Friday, with Mike Epps, DeRay Davis and Bruce Bruce all slated for sets in the glitzy venue. You might recognize Epps from his acting roles in "Next Friday," "The Friday After Next" and "The Hangover," while Davis broke out through his performance in 2012's "21 Jump Street."

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8) Parades Eve, 5 p.m. March 16 in Buffalo Irish Center (245 Abbott Road). Cost is $8 in advance at the Irish Center or at Tara Gift Shoppe, or $10 at the door.

Commentary: From a 5 p.m. Slow Roll through the Old First Ward to live music from Crikwater in the Irish Center, the palate-whetting event for St. Patrick's Day weekend is bursting with activity.

Even Buffalo Sabres forward Ryan O'Reilly - perhaps Buffalo's most famous active Irish athlete - will be on hand for dramatic readings of Irish prose in the Claddagh Room, which is a nice touch.

Maria Sebastian and Zak Ward will also collaborate on a full-band tribute to the Cranberries, the popular and timeless Irish rock band.

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9) Buffalo Golden Gloves: NYS Semifinals, doors at 2:30 p.m., bouts begin at 3 on March 18 in Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.). Cost is $30 in advance at Doris Records, RiverWorks and Carubba Collision ($35 for ringside seats), or $40 at the door. VIP tickets range from $45 to $50.

Commentary: An enticing and lengthy list of New York State amateur boxing semifinal bouts is on tap for Sunday in RiverWorks. Here's the updated schedule, courtesy of event organizer Don Patterson. Four women's bouts are also scheduled for the afternoon.

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10) Saved by the '90s, 8 p.m. March 16 in Mohawk Place (47 E. Mohawk St.). Cost is $10 at the door.

Commentary: Saved by the '90s is actually not the name of an event, but a New York City-based cover band that plays everything from Third Eye Blind to Alanis Morissette to Len to 'N Sync to the Goo Goo Dolls.

Sure, it feels a little strange to think of any of those bands as nostalgic, but the wide range of throwbacks should appeal to many a music fan, especially those in their late 20s and early 30s.

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BONUS: St. Patrick's Day Polish Happy Hour, 5 to 11 p.m. March 17 in Polish Cadets (927 Grant St.). Free to attend.

Commentary: Hey, at least historically, Poland and Ireland have generally gotten along. Poland even assimilated the Irish word for hooligan! The Polish Happy Hour venture recognizes the connections between the two cultures on Saturday night in the Polish Cadets hall, through food, beer, liquor and music. Relish the crossover and make some new friends.

Email: btsujimoto@buffnews.com

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