St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated citywide by Irish and non-Irish alike. The day starts with a block party. For years, the party was hosted by Parasol’s, an Irish pub, but after last year’s festivities, the bar sold and the former owners moved 2 blocks away, opening a new bar on Magazine Street – or rather, reopening an old family bar called Tracey’s. Unaffected by the confusion over old Parasol’s/new Parasol’s, old Parasol’s/new Tracey’s, the block party went on as usual.
Though it landed on a Thursday, people arrived as early as 11 am. There’s a saying around here, “You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning.” There were face painters and a D.J./M.C., folks on fold out chairs with coolers, children in strollers and everywhere – green. Green shirts, green beards, green hats, etc. I donned my green wig once again and joined the sea of revelers for a short while. It was a gorgeous day for meeting neighbors.
Later, I headed to the French Quarter and found a spot for the annual Downtown Irish Club Parade. A cup we caught said it best, “Pete Fountain and his Half-Fast Marching Club.” (Apparently, Mr. Fountain, who appeared on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show 56 times, originally called it the Half-Assed Marching Club – yeah, that, too) There are lots of stops included in this parade as the bars in the area give free drinks to the marchers. Parade stops can be boring, but we lucked out over and over with music stopping right in front of us.
Farhad Grotto Bug Patrol led the way for the Blowhard Bagpipe Band, St. Baldrick’s (childhood cancer non-profit), St. Charles Streetcar Band, GIANT horses, a memorial for President and past Marshall of the Downtown Irish Club, Kenny Gifford, and the Celtic Highlander‘s rolling bar, Rogue’s Lair.
The best moment was certainly when an invisible jump rope contest broke out. Two paraders swung a fake rope (sometimes 2 for double dutch) and the fun began. Tourists holding hand grenade drinks, pretty girls working their curves, energetic young men in green, everyone gave it a shot, but the hands down winner was the 83 year old woman from Chicago. I’d caught her earlier dancing to 50 Cent and Aerosmith and saw her eyeing the “rope,” looking for an opening. She’d never been here before but, after the lengthy show she put on and the overwhelming applause, I’m sure she’s always welcome. I love that, no matter who you are or what your story is, this city offers so many ways to have fun (and most are free!).
The throws for this parade included the requisite beads and cups and the flowers-for-kisses as well as fun toys like bubbles and fake tattoos, but there were some R-rated additions – I was handed a playing card with an excited nude man on it then black condoms with a big pickle.
With the last of the Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s parades over, I packed away my 2 new petticoats and my green wig. As the parade season winds down, people are already asking what costume I’m wearing to Fat Tuesday next year.
I can’t say it enough – I love this city