St Paddy’s Day Parade Report

Not the parade, but it is St Patrick.

I sauntered early up 64th to 5th avenue next to the grandstand and the first event o’ the day was a woman weaving eastwards with enormous bare thighs thrusting out from under a tiny tutu. Green, naturally. She was giggling with her mate, a lovely, healthy young thing who wore shorts and a t-shirt that came just above her pertinents.

My thoughts at the time: Boy, must they be cold, I wonder what St Patrick thinks about this and Confirmation of earlier reports that the pubs opened with the sunrise.

From there, a tremendous lull in the action.

Anyway, since the parade has been made into yet another political event—from which there are precious few, and dwindling, respites—it’s as well to get that nonsense out of the way.

Mayor de Blasio didn’t show in yet another year of protest. He claimed there were not enough marchers who announced with whom or with what they would like to have sexual relations with. (About one such group, more below.) This being the question is today’s society, perhaps he felt everybody should wear some kind of sticker or emblem so that passersby could know whom to hit on and whom to ignore.

Some of us weren’t buying his excuse, though. De Blasio’s relations with police—they and their supporters are a major parade presence—are sour at best, and I think he didn’t want to risk boos from the crowd. He’s a sensitive creature.

A shillelagh-wielding Cardinal Dolan and retinue trotted past shortly after the Fighting 69th, who opened festivities. The prelate received a few polite applause and a wave from two sisters standing nearby.

The first pipe band was announced by a wee Irish lass who shouted to her mother, “Look! A man wearing a skirt!” Poor thing isn’t up on her politics. But she was right. Indeed, it was many men. And boy did they rouse the blood!

I stood next to an Irish gentleman and his wife. A giant, frat-boy leprechaun who was working the crowd, encouraging young ladies to have pictures taken with him. I asked if the gentleman got that sort of thing back home. “Started by the yanks,” he said.

It was yanks who invented the selfie stick, too. An annoying wispy-haired tourist elbowed to the barricade and proceeded to photograph himself in every conceivable pose, but always with the same unhappy smile and the parade at his back, after which he left. As I’ve said before, when one day I read the headline, “Obnoxious Tourist Beaten To Death With Selfie Stick” I won’t weep any tears.

Lots of cops, firemen (the Danish have helmets that look like those from the movie Fahrenheit 459), soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, veterans, sanitation crews, teachers, Irish appreciated societies, high school marching bands from the world over, drill teams, pipe bands galore, Ancient Order of Hibernians suborders with patron saint banners and chaplains, bands of religious with various Our Ladies, and, near the end, one set of political folks.

They were dull. By the time the “I want to have sex with people of the same sex” contingent (and their allies) marched by the grandstand (about 4:20), the television cameras had been off for over an hour and most of the spectators had departed. The south stands had one person, the main bleachers about twenty, and the north exactly ten folks (I counted), mostly playing on their devices. North half of 64th to 65th on the east side was empty.

Still, the small green-sashed group eeked out some thumbs up and applause from the people remaining. The marchers were loosely surrounded by as many bored cops, some wearing light blue “Community Affairs” jackets (but still armed). The only thing approaching excitement was when the sex group got stopped at 65th to let a firetruck (with sirens blazing) pass (65th is one of Central Park’s exit, cross-town streets).

Doubtless there will be complaints that the “I’m a man/woman and like to see other men/women naked” people should have been more prominently placed (“They didn’t even let us on TV!”). Everybody wants to not only to be a victim, but to be so publicly.

But maybe organizers will realize that, for just one day a year, and for only four hours out of that day, in a parade devoted to one saint and featuring several others, we can do without the politics and just enjoy ourselves.


  1. Gary

    According to Wikipedia (lowest common denominator, yes, but bear with me), Politics (from Greek: ????????? politikos, defined as “of, for, or relating to citizens”) is the practice and theory of influencing other people. So parades would qualify as political activities in this most generous sense of the word. They’re organized assemblages of various groups asserting their presence in the community and trying to influence favorably the good will of the spectators. Isn’t that politics at the center? This particular event originally was meant to raise public opinion of Irish immigrants, which it seems to have accomplished even though the stereotypes remain. Personally, I outgrew parades at the age of ten, although there is a local one, the Ancients and Horribles Parade which has as its sole purpose the mocking of elected officials and their foibles, that I appreciate. It’s a lost cause to think parades will ever be scrubbed of politics so just enjoy the weirdness and get an easy blog post our them.

  2. John B()

    : the Danish have helmets that look like those from the movie Fahrenheit 459 [sic]

    Well Fahrenheit 451 was produced in England and directed
    by the same French dude who was in Close Encounters of a Third Kind

    It’s no stretch that the Danish helmets were borrowed for it

  3. John B()

    Heard St Pat’s “Bad Analogy” on the radio last week – thanks for sharing.

  4. MattS

    “The first pipe band was announced by a wee Irish lass who shouted to her mother, “Look! A man wearing a skirt!””

    A Kilt is not a skirt.

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