Patrick Rawson's St. Patrick's Day recommendations, on page A1, are a welcome take: Celebrate all things Irish through poetry, literature, music and storytelling, and put less emphasis on drink.
But since alcohol remains a central part of Americans' observance of St. Patrick's Day, Oregon State Police recommend the following precautions:
Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin and designate a sober driver.
If you decide to drink once you're out, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member or use public transportation.
If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement by calling 9-1-1 or 1-800-24-DRUNK.
If you are hosting a party, serve plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages.
According to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37 percent of the motor vehicle traffic fatalities during St. Patrick's Day 2009 involved at least one driver or motorcyclist with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent.
"Unfortunately, one of the most widely celebrated days of the year all too often shares the distinction of being associated with a sadder reality - too many people are driving drunk and endangering themselves and others on the road," said OSP Sergeant Greg Plummer, DUII program coordinator.
During last year's national reporting period for St. Patrick's Day - 6 p.m. March 16 through 5:59 a.m. March 18 - two people died in Oregon traffic crashes.
Prior to last year there were no reported traffic fatalities in Oregon during the previous four years during the St. Patrick's Day period. Last year it fell on Friday, and this year on Saturday.
Alcohol abuse combined with driving creates a problem on any weekend, and is hardly limited to St. Patrick's Day.
As Plummer puts it, "Don't risk hurting or killing yourself or someone else. Even if you've had just a few drinks, don't kid yourself into thinking you can be lucky enough to get home."
Those of us lucky enough to live in the Gorge have plenty to look forward to, in life and in print.
Spring is, finally, nearly here, yet ample snow covers the mountain slopes, where it belongs, giving skiers and boarders opportunities for double days - ski in the morning and ply the river in the afternoon.
However you enjoy the Gorge, there will also be plenty to read about in the upcoming Panorama special section, coming April 11, and the inaugural The Gorge magazine, which hits the streets next week. (See the March 20 edition for details.)
Speaking of Panorama, remember that there will be room in the publication for photos of this magnificent Gorge. Submitting them is simple: by March 23, bring them by our office, or email them to photos@hoodrivernews. Digital photos should be sized from 150 KB and 3 MB. In all cases, include a short description of the photo and why it's your favorite.
We're looking forward to seeing your visions of the Gorge.