Downtown San Jose turns green

Downtown San Jose missed its chance to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in 2020 – the Santa Clara County home stay ordinance went into effect March 17th – but it is sure to make up for that this year.

Starting Friday, there will be plush goblins in the windows of restaurants and other shops, various downtown buildings will be lit green, and a St. Patrick’s Day-themed arch will be set up in San Pedro Square for the perfect selfie backdrop. And next Wednesday, hundreds of clover leaf masks will be distributed to people in the city center.

A St. Patrick’s Day projection on the outbuilding of the Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose is part of a lighting project March 12-17, 2021. (Photo courtesy of the San Jose Downtown Association)

The staff at the San Jose Downtown Association have done an excellent job over the past few months with lighting campaigns and social media selfie contests for gift cards for downtown restaurants to bring visitors back to the heart of the city. The Downtown Association website,, is one of the best sources for finding out which restaurants offer outdoor, dine-in, or take-out service and what their opening hours are.

Yes, on Wednesdays, Guinness flows at O’Flaherty’s and Irish whiskey, which is poured in the Five Points Bar, among other places, but celebrities need to remember to stay safe and keep a safe distance. Just because a public St. Patrick’s Day was “canceled” last year doesn’t mean it’s okay to be stupid this year.

TWIST ON A TRADITION: March 19th is St. Joseph’s Day, a Catholic holiday that is usually the occasion for a grand celebration by the Italian American Heritage Foundation in San Jose. This year is far from usual, but that just meant the IAHF had to adjust their plans. The organizers hope to capture the spirit of the St. Joseph’s Table event without a mass followed by a personal lunch.

People can stop by the IAHF Cultural Center at 425 N. Fourth St. that day between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to pick up a free take-away bag that contains the traditional gift of a dry fava bean, orange, bread item and one Prayer contains cards. These items date back to the traditional Sicilian festival that dates back to a time of famine when people ate fava beans to feed cattle and asked for relief from Saint Joseph, the patron saint of Sicily.

This year’s commemoration also honors Monsignor Joe Milani, who celebrated Mass on St. Joseph Day for many years and died in July 2020. The bags will be blessed in advance by Bishop Oscar Cantu.

It’s free for everyone until their pockets are empty, but donations are always welcome. Anyone in need of special accommodation or additional information can call the IAHF office at 408-293-7122.

CHEERS: This week, the Berryessa Citizens Advisory Council named Thelma Boac, a trustee of the Berryessa Union School District, Citizen of the Year. Boac, who has lived in the North San Jose neighborhood for more than 50 years, had a long career as a teacher and administrator in the South Bay, including as principal of Silver Creek High School in San Jose. “It is a pure joy to honor a community role model, especially one who is so free and expecting nothing in return,” said Susan Fowle, chair of the council’s selection committee.

Meanwhile, Bay FM (94.5) had an on-air presentation last week to celebrate Jona Denz-Hamilton’s 25th anniversary with the broadcaster. She was already a radio name in San Jose and Sacramento when she signed with KBAY in March 1996, and has certainly been a welcome presence in South Bay ever since. “Jonah is a real treasure for the Bay Area as a radio personality and through her dedication and service to the community,” said Dave Numme, Alpha Media’s content director. And I will support that.

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