MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Thousands of people are expected to be out in force celebrating March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day this Friday.

WREG spoke to local businesses to see how restaurants, bars and security teams are getting ready for crowds decked out in Irish green and Tiger blue.

From the sounds of bagpipes, to the music of an Irish band filling the air, Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations combined with the passion of March Madness has Memphis restaurants and bars feeling lucky.

Many are getting an early start on Friday, as customers celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day on the same day basketball fans will be gathering to cheer on Coach Penny Hardaway and the University of Memphis Tigers.

In the Cooper-Young community, Celtic Crossing Irish Pub and Restaurant is ground zero for many feeling Irish and supporting the University of Memphis. We spoke with owner D.J Naylor to see how things were going.

“We will pack this place out with live music and anybody who wants to catch the game here can catch the game. Tipoff is 8:20 and obviously, we are all pulling for Memphis to take out F.A.A…Florida Atlantic and I’m sure we will,” Naylor said.

Restaurant and bar owners are already seeing green as customers return after the pandemic.

“This is kind of the first real year with the ghost of COVID behind us and I feel like people are out in their numbers today,” Naylor said.

On historic Beale Street, the home of the Blues, Tiger fans are already out showing their colors at B.B. King’s Blues Club.

“Go Tigers! The game starts at 8:30. Come on down we got big screens,” Nate Illsley said.

They said the blues, basketball ball and crowds expected to belly up to the bar are a perfect mix for business.

“We are anticipating a huge crowd. You know everybody wants to come out and support the Tigers. It’s Saint Paddy’s Day…everybody wants to get out and celebrate. Come on down to the world famous B.B. King’s,” Illsley said.

As for crowd control and keeping customers safe, some businesses like Celtic Crossing said they’ll also be taking extra precautions.

“We’ve got a full security crew, a professional crew starting at two o’clock and we will be obviously watching out for noone underaged,” Naylor said.

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With Saint Paddy’s Day and the Tigers in March Madness, it’s a recipe that has many Memphians feeling lucky as they paint the town green and Tiger blue.

WREG reached out to MPD about additional security for tonight. They said they will have officers on Beale Street and officers in the areas that St. Patrick’s Day celebrations may impact.

In a statement, they also said we ask that citizens celebrate responsibly and remember to have a designated driver or use a rideshare to reach their destination. In addition, be aware of their surroundings and travel in a group when possible. Carry your valuables with you, do not leave them in a vehicle. When crossing streets, utilize crosswalks.