St. Patty's Day at Joplin's OK Bar has been more than just OK.
"We opened the doors at 7 am this morning, and we had a full crowd right off the gate," says Flo Coffman, who works behind the bar.
Joplin resident Kimberly Wilson says, "I love St. Patrick's Day! It's my favorite holiday!"
Wilson has a reason for calling the day a holiday.
Wilson says, "Well, I'm 28 percent Irish. So I celebrate every year!"
The festive drinks.
"I'll probably stick with (green) beer," says Wilson.
Wilson has another plan.
"We are not going to drive and drive. We left our car. There's free taxi rides available at several bars. We have decided where our route is going to start, we're going to walk down through, and then at the end of the night, we'll take a free taxi ride home," says Wilson.
"If you're going to go out, have a blast! What we ask is that you plan responsibly," says Captain Rusty Rives with the Joplin Police Department.
Joplin police plan sobriety checkpoints and extra safety patrols this weekend.
"Whether you're celebrating a holiday or not, it's always best to practice not drinking and driving," says Coffman.
"Gotta keep the public safe," says Wilson.
Safety with no compromise.
The Joplin Police Department is short 24 officers right now. Twelve law enforcement officers from nearby agencies will help the JPD this weekend.
"There are checkpoints, usually one or two a year, that are solely run by our officers here in town," says Rives. "Part of that, though, we're also members of the Southwest Missouri DWI Task Force. That's when you start bringing-in officers from other jurisdictions."
518 people were arrested in Joplin last year for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Many bar workers know they'll be playing a big part this year of decreasing distracted driving statistics.
"Oh, I cut people off already this morning," says Coffman. "Some of my regulars. I have no problem doing it. Part of my job as a bar manager or a bartender is to identify who has had too much to drink and who hasn't."
The money used to pay the outside police officers this weekend is coming from federal grants.
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