Behind the scenes at ShamROCK

Posted: March 3rd, 2017 | Arts & Entertainment, Features, News, Top Story | No Comments

By John Gregory

Producing ShamROCK, the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter, takes more than the luck of the Irish. It takes planning, coordination and hard work.

Laurel McFarlane, CEO of McFarlane Promotions, Inc., and her team are tasked with organizing this gigantic event.

“We’ve been pretty much working on it since it ended last year. It’s a year-round project,” said Camille Riley, events, promotions and public relations manager for McFarlane Promotions. “We really kick it into high gear about eight months out. It just gets more and more involved as it gets closer.”

A band plays to a huge audience at one of the ShamROCK stages. (Courtesy of McFarlane Promotions, Inc. and 4th Estate Productions)

The two leading the planning efforts for ShamROCK are McFarlane and Jenna Thompson, director of operations.

The celebration will feature a light show on the surrounding buildings, a 150-foot outdoor Irish pub and 80,000 square feet of green AstroTurf in the streets, Riley said.

It involves 75 porta-potties, 30 outside volunteers, 65 security personnel plus police officers, eight electric generators and 60 walkie-talkies, she added.

There will be three music stages and one VIP stage and, of course, gallons of green beer along with other libations.

Thousands of revelers crowd the streets during ShamROCK. (Courtesy of McFarlane Promotions, Inc. and 4th Estate Productions)

Setup for the celebration will begin at 2 a.m. March 17 when the streets will be shut down so work can begin, Riley said.

The streets are usually open again by 6 or 7 a.m. the day following the event, she said.

At least 10 separate trucks make numerous trips to and from the venue throughout the course of the day delivering items such as lighting and sound equipment for the stages, and porta-potties, she said.

Riley said a cleanup crew is hired and they usually work throughout the day while setup is underway and they clean up after the event until the streets are back to normal.

If Riley’s event-day schedule is any indication, the McFarlane Promotions staff doesn’t get much sleep around St. Patrick’s Day.

She is responsible for television and other media promotions from the site. She greets the morning TV show reporters in the wee hours.

“I get on-site about 4 a.m. and then I’m there all day usually through the end, until midnight,” Riley said.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation. ShamROCK begins at 6 p.m. March 17 and ends at midnight. The entrance is at Fifth Avenue and G Street.

For more information, visit

Reach John Gregory at

Leave a Comment