After my first full Mardi Gras season here in 2010, I had my first ever St. Patrick’s season here. Much to my surprise in this mostly non-Irish city, the celebrations went on for days with block parties, house parties and a multitude of parades. My favorite moment quickly became the Irish Channel Parade. This, my 3rd Irish Channel Parade, brought my life in L.A. and my life in NOLA together. Preparing for my upcoming part in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, I’ve been spending time with several of my fellow castmates. Though I invited people from many different parts of my life, I spent St. Patrick’s surrounded by Django-ites.
Locals (and veteran paraders) actor J.D. Evermore and Wendy Talley from wardrobe joined us as well as out-of-towners (parade novices), Dennis Christopher and Craig Stark. It was fun seeing the day through the eyes of people who’d just come from the wild west. I’m a veteran now – I have a cooler, a parasol for shade and I always carry spare bags to fill with abundant throws. They literally had no idea what hit ’em. It brought me back to my first Irish Channel Parade and all the surprises it had in store for me. I’ll be honest, I prefer the big marching bands and dance troupes of Mardi Gras to the bagpipes and Irish jig of the Irish Channel Parade, but the Irish offering does feature a few fun additions.
I get a kick every year out of the Celtic Highlanders‘ rolling bar, the Rogue’s Lair. There are the 1600 (mostly drunken) walkers in black suits, many in kilts, exchanging faux flowers for kisses. The Daughters of Lir, also offer kisses for the men in the crowd. And throws include cabbage, potatoes, peppers, carrots and oodles of noodles, ingredients for the Irish stew you make after. I’m perfecting my recipes for cabbage stew as well as cole slaw.
There are also pickles (they’re green), Lucky Charms, Irish Spring soap and tons of toys. I caught a harlequin clown on a swing with “Jesus” written into the print of its 2-tone satin suit (photo below). Clowns are almost always a little creepy to me since seeing Poltergeist as a kid, but this almost ties my giant black and gold fleur de lies necklace for coolest throw I’ve caught.
Dennis Christopher must have charmed many as he left the festivities covered in beads. We caught a couple of bags of throws including a baby doll and a few prized cabbages – not easy to do when you stand further back and only catch from the top tiers, but I was fearless. Other paraders included Farhad Grotto, St. Alphonsus Catholic School, Palmetto Ridge High School (from Naples, FL), Muggivan School of Irish Dance, Corner Club, New York City Pipes and Drums and the Lions Carnival Club. For more history of the parade and its organizers, click here.