The Wednesday before Spring Break, Ohio University students can be found roaming Court Street with green tongues and St. Patrick's Day-themed attire, sitting at bars with a green beer in hand. This is what OU calls Green Beer Day, and its history dates back to the 1950s.
One can thank OU's rival, Miami University, for starting the tradition of Green Beer Day in 1952. Bars around campus started serving green beer using green food coloring as an homage to St. Patrick's Day the Thursday before Spring Break.
To David Cornwell, the owner of Athens's The J-Bar, Courtside Bar and Grill and North End Kitchen + Bar, located at 41, 85 and 77 N. Court St., respectively, the tradition continues to persist in Athens because of beer distributors who work to profit from the holiday, especially when OU was on a quarter system.
"At the time, the Coors distributorship came up with something called Green Beer Day, because it (had) been done (in) other places, to try to do a pre-St. Patrick's Day celebration when the students were in town, so that's why it started," Cornwell said.
Students enjoy the holiday for its carefree nature and the atmosphere it creates around campus, especially as Spring Break comes just days later.
"I mean, it's really cool," Darby Prichard, a senior studying international relations and military science, said. "Thinking about the atmosphere around Athens and OU and how you can go to a bar and everyone's really nice here, especially on celebratory holidays like this."
While it's bittersweet to be celebrating her last Green Beer Day in Athens, Prichard is excited to go out with friends to bars such as Lucky's Sports Tavern and The Pub for a green drink.
"I didn't get to go out for Green Beer Day last year, so it'll be really cool to be able to do that," Prichard said. "I really love St. Patrick's Day."
In terms of the bar scene on Green Beer Day, Cornwell says that his establishments will be open early for students to celebrate, serving tap green beer.
"At two of them, we'll serve tap beer that's green, basically like everybody else," Cornwell said. "We'll open early because normally, unless it's a nice day, we don't open our places on Wednesdays until four, so we'll be open by noon."
Bennett Snyder, a junior studying journalism and a bartender at Broney's Alumni Grill, said they have many specialties to offer students, including a spin on a classic local favorite.
"One of our specialty drinks is a champagne slushy that we do," Snyder said. "They're normally orangish, a peach champagne slushy, so for Green Beer Day, we'll put green dye in them so they'll be green."
It'll be Snyder's first time bartending on Green Beer Day this year. He is excited about the opportunity to get OU community members together for one day before Spring Break sends everyone to different destinations.
"It's just a fun way to get business to the bars," Snyder said. "It brings the whole campus together. I think anytime you can have a day like that where everyone has the same plan on their mind that they're going to go out and do this thing, it's normally a pretty fun day for everyone."
Snyder also doesn't see Green Beer Day going away anytime soon, especially since its iconic legacy has stuck to the bricks of Athens for over 50 years.
"When the whole campus is having a fun day together, those things tend to stick around, so it's been around for forever, and I don't plan on this being the last one," Snyder said.