Maine allows bars to open early for St Patrick's Day

Thu Mar 14, 2013 7:58pm EDT
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By Sarah Mahoney

DURHAM, Maine (Reuters) - St. Patrick's Day revelers can get an extra-early start this year in Maine thanks to an emergency measure signed by the governor on Thursday allowing bars and restaurants to begin serving alcohol at 6 a.m.

The Irish-American celebration this year falls on a Sunday, when Maine bans the sale of alcohol before 9 a.m., so bar and restaurant owners sought an exception to the state law.

"St. Patrick's Day isn't just our biggest day. It is four times bigger than any other day," said Daniel Steele, co-owner of Portland's popular Brian Boru Public House, not far from the city's St. Patrick's Day parade route. "So this is a lot of revenue for us, and also generates a lot of sales tax.

"We're delighted that the governor changed his mind."

The measure had seemed doomed due to opposition by Governor Paul LePage, who in a television interview earlier this week dismissed the bill as "garbage."

The Republican governor, locked in a battle with the Democratic-controlled state legislature over nearly $500 million in overdue Medicaid payments, had vowed to veto any and all legislation until his plan for those repayments is passed.

But the governor said he changed his mind after meeting with state Representative Barry Hobbins, a Democrat.

"Mainers know that I am a man of my word," the governor said in a statement. "But I am always open to reasonable suggestions. I'm pleased to sign this bill as a gesture of goodwill and as a supporter of Maine's fine establishments that wish to open earlier on St. Patrick's Day."   Continued...

St. Patrick's Day coat pins adorn the jacket of Dennis Dunn of New York as he watches the 251st annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York, March 17, 2012. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri