Posted by: jevcat | March 17, 2010

St. Patrick’s Day Rambling

The amount of Irish in my bloodline is present, but barely – and Northern Irish Protestant, to boot, according to my mother (a fact I conveniently chose to neglect for most of my life).  But I’ve always loved the day and the celebration:  the music, wearing green clothes and green carnations, eating corned beef and cabbage, tacky green bagels, green frosted cupcakes, and all – if I liked beer, I’d probably want green beer, too. 

I’ve never been a big fan of the parade, not being a big fan of marching bands (except for those bagpipes), although, back in the days when I worked several blocks from the parade route, I used to wander over at lunchtime for a little while. 

 I haven’t been to the parade in years, partly because I’ve worked elsewhere in the city, partly out of solidarity with gay friends now banned from marching openly.  But my favorite St. Patrick’s Day goes back maybe 30 years and includes the parade. 

 When the original show of Tutankhamen relics was the Metropolitan Museum of Art, three friends and I had managed to snag tickets – no easy feat – by judicious use of younger siblings to stand help stand in line.  The downside was the date we were given was St. Patrick’s Day.  We went to the show, enchanted as everyone else by the history and the glorious art, and caught the end of the parade when we left – always the best part, with the county associations and large groups of families all walking together, calling out to each other and friends on the sidelines.  And sure enough, two of my friends (sisters, and Irish to the core) saw a band of pipers led by a neighbor, to whom we shouted and waved.  It always struck me that that’s what it should be, what the parade originally was. 

 Afterwards, we wanted something to eat, but there was no getting into any restaurant or pub near the parade route, so we headed out to my one friend’s Jackson Heights neighborhood.  There we found all the pubs spilling out the door with people and finally wound up in, of all places, a Polynesian restaurant.  We crowded into a booth, drank beverages served in coconuts and pineapples, gorged on pupu platters and other pseudo-Polynesian delights, and laughed ourselves silly. 

 We had such a good time, in fact, that for years at least some of that group made a regular St. Patrick’s Day pilgrimage to that restaurant in Jackson Heights.  I used to bring green carnations and a small water bottle and set them on the table for seasonally appropriate decoration for us.  One year we were halfway to the subway going home when I realized we’d left the green carnations on the table, and we giggled at what the next customers to sit there must have thought.

 The restaurant is long gone, and one of the friends gone now, too – and possibly discussing the day with St. Patrick, himself, for all I know.  But I do know I’m not the only person to have celebrated the Irish saint born in England with a group of two Irish, an Italian, and one true mongrel having a pinch of Irish in her (me) with Polynesian food and rum.



  1. That sounds like wonderful fun! I bought green cupcakes today. Lenten fasting is off, for St. Pat’s, and we’re gathering a few members of the Theater Posse at a bar this evening for celebration of what your bro (who, unfortunately, isn’t coming) calls “St. Drinking’s Day” and Othello’s belated birthday. I’m brining the cupcakes, along with a birthday candle and matches, to the bar.

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