Monday, March 12, 2012

Worcester Gone Wild or The St. Patrick's Day Parade

As most of my readers are from New England, you completely understand why a St. Patrick's day parade is synonymous with debauchery, however, for the few others who are not privy to this tradition please let me explain.  The Worcester/Southie/Newport/(insert all other major parades in RI and MA) parades are a rare moment where friends and families line the streets dressed in crazy accessories and Kelley Green and open container laws cease to exist.  I kid you not, the entire parade route becomes a family-friendly bar. (I tried to explain this tradition to a few DC friends when I first moved south, but honestly, you have to see it to believe it. For a while, they thought I was either crazy or a serious alcoholic.) Drinking starts early (in Newport I think people start drinking when the sun comes up), but all of this centers around a parade with floats, marching bands, politicians, the whole-nine yards.  The street is littered with thrown candy, grocery-cart-pushing street vendors and red solo cups.  From an outsider point of view, this seems strange and bordering on inappropriate, however, to anyone who grew up near these parades, it's just what you do.  And you HAVE A BLAST! 

So I did. I went to the Worcester parade for the first time in over 10 years.  Jackson and I walked from our apartment and started at the end of the parade route and worked our way down to the beginning.  I was afraid that after so many years away, I might be a little disappointed, but alas the excitement of the day was infectious as soon as we reached the crowd.  I felt like a kid again, dodging candy, waving to the people on the floats and laughing at the ridiculous drunk college students. Note: I would love to link to the Worcester St. Patrick's Day parade website, but it's exceeded its bandwidth or something and the site is down at the moment.

We met up with family and stopped to watch just in time to see the Shriners zipping around in the little cars!  Honestly, these guys have always been my favorite.
 Shriner photo credit Jim Motavalli Mother Nature Network blog.
I found myself watching for some of the groups I remembered fondly from my younger parade going.  The carpenter's union had a great float with moving parts, the catholic schools of Worcester were blasting the unicorn song and I had to really stop myself from doing the hand movements.  Here's a you tube link if you have no idea what I am talking about. There was the man who rides on a toilet... can't remember what he's advertising, but the point is that I was surprised how reminiscent the day was for me. 

We ducked out a little early to beat the crowds, but the true experience (read: with beer - we weren't drinking) usually lasts into the afternoon.  Families cook out or have a nice lunch spread and Park Avenue becomes a block party.  The barrooms stay packed with the young twenty-somethings and local bands play into the evening.

Oh! I found out a little to late that there is a very popular Guinness Celtic 5k before the parade.  I was a little jealous because the t-shirts were uber cool.  Jack and I have made plans to run next year.  I heard that the racers had a great run and the turnout was particularly impressive.

It's a good day of not-exactly-wholesome family fun and it's totally free!! Slainte Worcester and Happy St. Patty's Day to everyone who will be celebrating on Saturday!

Until next time,