Shamrock This Town

Each year on March 17, businesses across Ireland except for pubs and restaurants, of course shut their doors in observation of St. Patrick's Day, the anniversary of the death of Ireland's patron saint and national apostle. On this side of the pond, it's a springtime holiday largely celebrated, like Fat Tuesday, as an excuse for overconsumption of food and booze.St. Pat is known for driving the snakes from Ireland, so Diamondbacks fans ought to raise a glass of Guinness and thank the ol' boy for sending them our way. And there's no better place than the 20th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade & Faire, set for the ides of March (the 15th, that is) in downtown Phoenix. The 10 a.m. parade, featuring a slew of politicians, media personalities, marching bands and Irish dancers, will snake its way down Central Avenue, from Thomas Road to Margaret T. Hance Park, south of McDowell.

The Faire follows at 10:30 a.m., and the park will reverberate throughout the day with Irish music by artists such as the Clare Voyants, the McMorrows, Seanachie, O'Carroll's Gate, and master of ceremonies Pat McCrossan. In addition to two stages of Irish music, step dancing and bagpiping, faire-goers can enjoy food and beverages, Irish crafts and merchandise, a children's area and the Irish Castle.

Faire admission is $5 for adults and free for those younger than 18. Call 602-280-9221 for more information. Brendan Joel Kelley

Base Hit
They may have hit the big five-o, but the Thunderbirds still do it loud, fast and often and frequently in synch. The famed Air Force aerial demonstration team celebrates its 50th anniversary at Luke Days 2003, Saturday, March 15, and Sunday, March 16, at Luke Air Force Base in Litchfield Park. Also on tap for the weekend: a Viper vs. Viper race, the "Smoke 'n' Thunder" jet dragster and assorted aircraft displays.

The action starts at 8 a.m. both days. The parking entrance is on the base's north side, near the Litchfield Road-Glendale Avenue intersection. Admission is free, parking is $5, and card-carrying members of the Mile-High Club enjoy special promotions and discounts. Call 623-856-7064 for details. Jill Koch

Loud and Proud
There's a first time for everything, but you don't have to wait for the third time to be a charm. This weekend, Tempe aims for instant success with the inaugural Tempe Music Festival at Tempe Beach Park. The roster of more than 30 acts boasts lots of rock alternative, classic, heavy and pop plus country, jazz, funk and blues. On Friday, March 14, the action happens from 4 p.m. to midnight, with the B-52's headlining; Creedence Clearwater Revisited rocks the festival on Saturday, March 15, when bands play from 11 a.m. to midnight. Tickets are $15 in advance from any Safeway or $20 on the day of the show, $5 for kids 6 to 12 and free for those younger. For information call 480-970-FEST (3378). Michele Laudig

Tricky Situation
Those clever people at the Paper Heart Gallery are always outdoing themselves in the entertainment department. On Friday, March 14, at 8 p.m., the venue hosts an incredible show with Anthony Demonic "Magician of the Impossible!" a world-traveled performer whose classic ventriloquism, hypnotism, and sleight of hand and escape tricks would fit right in on a Las Vegas stage. Representing the gallery, local artist JRC says, "His name is so belying of what he really is, which is very sweet." So don't let Demonic's name spook the kids it's a family-friendly event. Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for kids 12 and under. Located at 222 North Fifth Avenue. Call 602-262-2020 for information. Michele Laudig

Tomorrow Never Dies
Exhibit goes back to the future
Once upon a time, the future was envisioned as a wondrous world of flying cars, plastic homes and robots at every turn. Now that the year 2000 is history (and we're still waiting for mass-produced TV phones), it's fun to look back at our erstwhile fantasies of what the future held in "Yesterday's Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future," a new exhibition opening at the Challenger Space Center.A traveling show from the Smithsonian Institution, "Yesterday's Tomorrows" will appeal to kids, old-timers, technology junkies and pop-culture hounds alike, with objects and images illustrating 18th-, 19th- and 20th-century concepts of a sometimes bright, sometimes dark projection of life at the turn of the millennium.

Robert McCall, the official artist of NASA, will kick off the exhibition on Saturday, March 15, with a presentation on the "Future of Transportation." Subsequent Saturdays through April will address other futuristic themes, such as "Media and Visions of the Future," with screenings of old TV hits like The Jetsons, and "Robots and Automation," with a robotics competition.

"Yesterday's Tomorrows" continues through April 26 at the Center, 21170 North 83rd Avenue in Peoria, located north of Union Hills, just off Loop 101. To find out more, visit or call 623-322-2001. Michele Laudig

Season's Greetings
We could go on and on about the players on the scene professional baseball players, that is. RAZOR Magazine's 2003 Major League Baseball Preview Party on Wednesday, March 19, promises to be mobbed with Cactus League teams. (Last year's soiree drew Diamondbacks pitcher extraordinaire Curt Schilling and many other celebrity players, coaches and staff.) The free happy hour event, open to sports fans over 21, runs from 4 to 7 p.m. at FOX Sports Grill, 16203 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. Call 480-368-0369 for details. Michele Laudig

Desert Island
Festival says aloha to downtown
Living in Arizona, you may or may not be familiar with a substance known as water. Full of nourishing qualities, this elusive liquid is known as "the water of life" to island cultures the world over.Coincidentally, that is also the theme for the Ninth Annual Arizona Aloha Festival, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 15, and Sunday, March 16. Immerse yourself in music, art and culinary displays from Hawaii, Fiji, Tonga, Micronesia, the Cook Islands and beyond. Discover your inner H2O and indulge in the pleasures of island life before retreating back to your dusty desert existence.

Admission is free at the Heritage and Science Park, 115 North Sixth Street. For details call 602-262-5071 or visit Craig Wallach

Best Western
Cowpokes convene at WestWorld
We want to sleep with the guy who put together a weekend of cowboys and shopping but he was probably a woman. The Festival of the West, Thursday, March 13, through Sunday, March 16, is all cowboys, all the time. Nonstop Western music sets the mood for cowboy poets, balladeers and reenactors to rustle up the Old West, and nothing spells Americana like competition. The Chuck Wagon cookoff will whet your appetite for more vigorous contests like lying, pie eating, knife throwing and skillet slinging. When (and as if) you get tired of rugged guys in denim, shop for favorite brands at the Western Trade Show and Sutler's Row, which features trappers' goods for the mountain man (or woman) who needs everything. Mount up and meet at WestWorld, located at Pima Road and State Route 101 in Scottsdale. Gates open at 10 a.m. each day. Tickets are $12 for adults, $11 for seniors and $4 for kids. Call 602-996-4387 for details. Kim Toms

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