No Tent Concerns For St. Paddy's Day

Monday, March 17th 2008, 6:44 pm
By: News On 6

St. Patrick's Day celebrations draw people by the thousands in Green Country.   The News On 6's Carina Sonn reports safety is a big issue with the storms being predicted.

St. Paddy's Day celebrators were rolling into local pubs after work on Monday.  Several bars have set up tents to hold all of their customers.  Tents that, from the outside, look very similar to those that were up during last year's Oktoberfest.  During severe weather, some of those tents came crashing down, leaving many injured.  But, owners of one bar are counting on more than Irish luck to keep them safe.

JoAnn Armstrong, owner of Arnie's Bar, says thousands came out over weekend for a pre-St. Patrick's party, and she's hoping a similar number will pour into Arnie's Bar for more festivities. But, Oklahoma weather can be unstable, and a good time can quickly turn tragic.

Five months ago a powerful storm knocked down two large tents during Oktoberfest. The chaotic mess sent dozens to the hospital, and five were seriously injured, including the News On 6's Steve Berg.

St. Patrick's Day is the first big event since the Oktoberfest disaster of last year. Owners at Arnie's say they're expecting as many as 5,000 customers and while they're expecting some rough weather, they say their tent isn't going anywhere.

Steel and aluminum bars act as solid framing for the tent, which have flaps that come down to protect against strong winds and rain.  The entire 40 by 85 foot tent is held down by concrete medians that weigh about a ton each.

"The gentleman that owns the tent says it's wind rated up to 120-miles per hour so it makes me feel a little better but you've always got to have that in the back of your head that you want people to be safe," said Chris Armstrong, owner of Arnie's.

"It's kind of sad that people think a tent goes up and they relate it to that.  It was a weird, freak accident and a different company and we're not concerned about that for one second whatsoever," added JoAnn Armstrong.

Owners say they feel comfortable with their tent and believe it will protect customers in the event that a storm does hit.  They also assured the regulars that St. Patrick's Day will be celebrated no matter what.

Find more stories on's Local News page.