The Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Club was established in 1947 and has held a mass and parade for over 60 years. I’ve been attending for 5 of those, each year adding more trinkets to my costume and more recipes for the cabbage I catch. A friend of mine from college was visiting and it was her 2nd parade ever (her first was the Molly’s parade the day before). She arrived ready in a green shirt and green pinwheels spinning on her head. Not 24 hours in New Orleans and she was already getting the hint that nothing is “too silly” here.
I’d already explained that she might catch stew ingredients like cabbage and carrots as well as Irish Spring soap and Lucky Charms cereal in addition to the beads and toys. I don’t know if any of that prepared her for the sensation of being faced with a double-decker float full of people throwing things to crowds of screaming parade-goers. I also explained about the walkers who give out flowers for kisses but that couldn’t have prepared her for the waves of men in suits or uniforms or kilts, some with bright green beards or mohawks, carrying giant bouquets on umbrella handles.
For me and many of us in the crowd, the highlight was when we spotted actual Saints in the St. Patrick’s parade. Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, my 2013 pick for Favorite Local Character (despite his roots being elsewhere), delighted the crowd by owning his Irish and representing for his new city. Then I spied Saints punter Thomas Morstead walking tall in the crowd and wearing his kilt. Both these men have invested deeply in this city and its people. It warms my heart to see them taking part in our culture while connecting to their heritage. After parading 3 times this Mardi Gras this year, I know just how good that feels. I heard Saints head coach Sean Payton joined in at some point as well.
Enjoy photos of them and other paraders including Ft. Myer’s High School, Celtic Highlanders, Muggivan School of Irish Dance, Corner Club, St. Alphonsus, local artist Reuben Cheatem, Law Enforcement Emerald Society, Man of the Year Buddy Dunn (down for the count) as well as the Daughters of Lir and their giant swan.
For more history of the parade and its organizers, click HERE.