I haven’t been to too many St Patrick’s day parades because where I live up parades aren’t a thing on that day; but drunken parties are. My only exposure to St. Pat’s parades are the few years I lived in Brooklyn in New York. Brooklyn’s parade usually starts with local police and first responders and other local dignitaries, then there are bands and other groups but there is one common theme – lots of green. When my friend and I decided to meet up in Dublin it also happened to be the week of St Patrick’s day. What a fantastic thing to celebrate in the land the day originated!
There is a website and lots of tips around town to tell you the parade route and times. We just had to pick a strategy of where we would stand. We decided on a spot not too far from St Patricks Cathedral. We get there a little early but not as early as one person tells us – three hours early. I am pretty sure at three hours early most of the route would have still been a ghost town. Considering the parade didn’t get to us until over an hour after start time that would have made a very long and uncomfortable wait.
We thought we could pass the wait time with a couple of beers. We don’t know the street laws and asked the nearby police doing crowd control about alcohol consumption and they say no alcohol is allowed to be consumed on the streets *although I am sure it happened when the crowds thickened. We contemplate visiting a bar for a pint and switch off getting a beer while the other saves the spot. That plan soon falls through when we find out the no alcohol before noon rule that I thought only applied to Sundays applies to bank holidays as well. So it will be a dry parade for us. No big deal but it is a long wait for the parade so it would help pass the time. Luckily some pre-parade aerial arts entertainment starts up.
House music starts pumping from the make-shift DJ booth and aerial acts one by one flys around in front of us suspended by a large crane. The performance goes on for a long time, even leading into the start time of the parade. I read the parade pamphlet and it seems like this whole day is an ambitious combination of arts groups. I am expecting a parade with an art flair but I wasn’t expecting it to be only that. Arts is pretty much all we got.
There is the standard grand Marshall, local officials, and police and first responders along with many bands. Most of the marching bands are from high schools and colleges in the USA. We see one or two multi-cultural groups such as Venezuelans and break dancing French but just about zero Irish heritage groups: No Irish dancers, no St Patricks themed floats, and no kitschy leprechauns. All we see is costumed performances of different themes, all impressive in their own right, but none having to do with the theme of the day. The only groups remotely related are the ones that have pagan themed costumes and performances. At least those can be explained as how Ireland was before St Patrick came in and spread christianity (no he did not chase out the snakes….there are no snakes in Ireland).
It is all so confusing and poorly executed that no one really knows when the parade is over. There is no finale float. The last group we see is a biodiversity group and they come by in bicycles nicely decorated. There is no indicator that they are the last group. We wait for a few a few minutes but everyone else seems to leave so we leave too. Perhaps there was more but we aren’t sure. We head off to guiness to get lunch and get ready for our visit time there this afternoon. The parade lasts longer than we anticipated so we are starving.
More on our Guinness visit to come.