Annual beer festival lures locals to Frankford Avenue

Shamrock Shuttle, the traveling beer festival in Northeast Philadelphia, allows people to dress up like leprechauns crowd-surf through a mass of Irish party-goers.

While a bartender at Kilbane’s Irish Pub pours a pint into a beer mug, 20 participants clank their glasses to honor the month of Saint Patrick and all things green, orange and white. From shamrock-decorated hats to green-colored beer, everyone wants to celebrate Philly-Irish traditions. So, what’s one of Philly’s Irish blessings?

It begins with the purchase of a bracelet and collectors cup for $10.

The traveling beer festival, better known as the Shamrock Shuttle, revved up March 7 on Frankford Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia. For a bargain price, the Shuttle includes transportation, beer and authentic event souvenirs.

“It’s a great time every year. People come out rain or shine,” said Lisa Donovan, a 12-year veteran of the event. “I’ve never heard of any kind of trouble. I think people really just want to keep it a nice neighborhood event.”

This tribute to the spirit of the Irish is one of many in Philadelphia. Proceeds from the Shuttle benefit Fraternal Order of Police, Philadelphia Lodge #5.

The collector’s cup allows for discounted refills at bars listed on a roster, and there’s no cover charge to enter. For $10 more, party-goers can get the official Shamrock Shuttle T-shirt.

“I got the official souvenirs, so I’m pretty much set,” said Angeline Wible, a first-timer to the event. “My game plan is to take a lot of pictures and have a good time.”

From Irish-flag colored feather boas to gigantic green top hats and the ever-classic beer mug glasses, Shuttle participants can be spotted dressed in green and drinking beer by the gallon.

“It’s a great day to show you’re Irish, and if you’re not, well, everybody’s Irish today,” said Steve Platt, a Shamrock Shuttle four-year veteran.

Platt lives in an apartment above Last Call Tavern, the first stop along the Shuttle’s route.

“We only have one rule for today, and that’s no husbands,” Trisha Walter said.

“I got my first look at the Shamrock Shuttle when I worked at Juliano’s Deli, and people would be crawling in to get food,” Tawny Folk said. “Now it’s good to be on the fun side.”

Frankford Avenue is usually bombarded with bar hoppers, as bars and buses are completely jam-packed.

“We get extremely busy,” said Andrew Price, a manager at Wawa on Frankford Avenue. “It’s non-stop action in here. The line goes around the store, and the No. 1 seller is surprisingly not food, but cigarettes.”

Harrington’s Pub, located at 7226 Frankford Ave., premiered its vodka-soaked green grapes, or “Leprechaun Balls,” in recognition of the event.

“I knew it was going to be sweaty, but honestly, the smell of beer topped the sweat,” Wible said. “That’s why people roam ‘the Ave.’ – to get out of the crammed bars.”

Megan Frankowski can be reached at

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