Fellow blogger Don Marco indicated his aversion to Portland's "Old Port Fest" as it basically is a big crowd of lame surrounded by weak. Chiefly, this is because it's just a bunch of food booths and trinkets and crowds and they don't sell fried Twinkies even though I've been writing letters about that for years. Perhaps it's our old age showing, but overcrowded melees seem to have lost whatever appeal they once had.
I'd go a step further--one night you don't want to be out at the bars is St. Patricks, which is a minor holiday in Ireland that American drunkards have taken on as their own. Somehow, because a Roman clergyman converted a bunch of pagans on the Emerald Isle some centuries ago, Americans of all ethnicities (yeah, they're all "hey my great great grandfather had an Irish brother in law so we're totally ethnic" but honkey PLEASE!) decide it's a good time to dye their Budweiser green and drink themselves to full puke-acity in overcrowded bars where people who can't hold their liquor will get into fights and lodge their heads into the wheel wells of parked cars. You know what's more fun than going out on St. Patricks' Day? Going out almost any other night of the year.
Another exception is Cinco de Mayo. Most actual Mexicans have never heard of this holiday, because it commemorates not Mexican Independence, or the defeat of Montezuma, or the landing of Cortez, or the discovery of the siesta. Nope, it commemorates an obscure battle against the forces of Maximillian, who was a lackey of French emperor Napoleon III. But American beer distributors decided that something was needed between the heavy drinking holidays of Easter and Mother's Day, so they decided that something in early May was appropriate. Now Americans don't even pretend to be Mexican when they barf up taco pie and Coronas all day long. Again, the bars get way too packed, and lightweights drink far more than they can handle (and these always seem to be the guys and girls who love to punch things that are tougher than the bones in their hands).
Then there's New Year's Eve. The bars get just as packed, and some of them are smart enough to charge over $100 cover to control the crowds, offering "open bar" which means maybe three drinks amid a long wait. The single guys are thinking "hey, girls are extra desperate on a night like this if they're alone!" The single girls are thinking "I can't believe I'm this desperate". And everyone in a couple is thinking "I can't believe we paid $250 for that prix fixe dinner which wasn't very good, why are we not home knitting right now?" (Yes, I'm imagining very lame couples too).
So what's the solution? For all--house parties. You can control the crowds, supply them well, and keep to the made up theme of the holiday, getting all the fun without the pitfalls. And if it's not your house, the taco-puke is someone else's problem.