St Paddy’s Day Parade

by Chris Mills

Marching bands, monster insects, Gulliver, huge liquorice allsorts, walking eggs, a giant chicken, an elephant and a sea turtle, and that’s just for starters. The theme this year is ‘Extraordinary World’, hence the oversized eggs running along being chased by frustrated chefs with rubber spoons. Get it?

What would St Patrick have made of it all? All the colour, noise and exuberance. He does make the obligatory re-incarnated appearance (sans snakes) but it is merely a supporting role these days. He no longer gets top billing. He’s had to take second place to Samba bands, stilt walkers and strange figures with oversized heads.

I wasn’t going to do it again this year. I really wasn’t. Six years without a break is enough I reckoned. And it’s not even as if I’m Irish so it’s not really my parade is it? And I’m certainly not painting my face green. Yet, here I am again gearing up with a large latte and two bananas for a mammoth standing session on a pleasant, almost sunny morning. We bagged a good pitch ridiculously early having learned the lessons of previous years. Right up at the barrier, nobody in front of us, up the hill towards the end of the parade route. Sorted. Then the wait…and the wait….

The route filled up, Garda cyclists and motor cyclists sped up and down. A helicopter buzzed overhead. A talking newspaper walked up and down while free lollypops were handed out to the kids. We played ‘spot the greenest’ person to while away the time. Every year I envy those people who had the forethought to bring chairs or stools. Even step ladders can be seen along the parade route. It’s every person for him/herself when getting a good view. And I definitely envy the lucky few who have apartments (with balconies) along the parade route. You can either watch the spectacle yourself or hire out the view for beer money. Either way you can’t lose.

The kids start to get restless, craning their necks, perched on the barriers to get a better view down the road. My legs are getting stiff already. It’s now half an hour after the parade should have started (if it all kicked off on time anyway) so we should be beginning to hear something soon up at our end. And the sun is now actually shining. It’s going to shine on our parade.

Finally it’s here.. the ceremonial carriage, the glossy horses, the fire brigade band with their lovely wolfhound mascot, followed by the garda dogs parading beautifully. Oh, dear I’m being sucked in again. I guess I really do love a parade. As long as it isn’t rained on of course…

Chris Mills is a native of Birmingham presently living in Dublin

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