In Greensboro Saturday, it was difficult to separate celebrations of St. Patrick's Day from those of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's basketball win.
Few even tried.At Fisher's Grille on North Elm Street, the BR Boys played Irish music at the front of the place while a color television set tuned to the game between the Tar Heels and the University of Oklahoma held court in the rear.
Customers were passing beer and drinks with green food coloring, and the Tar Heels were down 53-50 as Peter Lolli said he was torn between the two shows.
``Right now, I'm paying attention to both,' he said. ``We came here for the band, but the game's closer than we thought it would be.'
When David Sheppard and Scott Manring of the BR Boys ended the gig with ``Trippin' up the Stairs' and ``Father O'Flynn's Jig,' most of the standing-room-only crowd cheered, and UNC-Chapel Hill was up 58-53.
``I don't care if they watch the game,' Sheppard said. ``I was looking up from my fiddle the whole time. I went to UNC.'
The Irish band was in high demand on St. Patrick's Day, playing Fisher's first, then scheduled for the String and Splinter Club in High Point and College Hill Sundries in Greensboro.
At 6:20 p.m. at T.K. Tripps on Battleground Avenue, hostess Cathy Brereton boasted of the Blarney stone stew, corned beef and cabbage on the menu and the green beer at the bar. But as Oklahoma regained the lead soon after Tar Heel Scott Williams fouled out, there were only five couples at five tables and four people at the bar. All eyes were glued to the TV.
``Another hour or so, people will be here,' Brereton predicted.
She was right. At 7:40 p.m., the bar was full, the green beer was flowing and there was an hour's wait for dinner.
Only four people were at Hooray Harry's on Walker Avenue, and only one of them, bartender Louise Eyers, was decked out for the holiday. There was no green beer here, and no customers mentioned St. Patrick's Day.
The score was 77-76 Oklahoma with 39 seconds left in the game when Phil Foster, drinking Budweiser from a can, urged the Tar Heels on.
``Sweeeeeet. Sweeeeet. Ohhhhhh!' he shouted as King Rice tied the score at 77.
And at 6:40 p.m., when Rick Fox buried the winning basket, Foster danced a jig.