Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NYC09: New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade

Everywhere you look around, do people seem to be dressed in an abnormal amount of green? Is it only ten o'clock in the morning, and yet people are staggering around slurring their short screams, and exuberant monosyllabic cries? Is there an odd amount of comradery for people who are dressed alike, and a great hatred for those refusing to embrace the chosen colour? Well then – it must be St. Patrick's Day.

If you're in New York, there's only one place to be on this day of days, and that is firmly situated along fifth avenue. The parade starts at 44th, and ends around 88th, but if you're in the know you'll make sure to set up below 66th. Not only will this put you in the heart of the party, but it will also allow you access to the pre-parade songs and dances.

Hosting the biggest St. Patty's Day parade in all the world, New York City has a lot to be proud of. But if you plan on camping out for the whole shebang, might I recommend bringing a chair, or a stool, or – something. Because, be assured, you are going to be there for a long long time.

The parade begins at 11:00am and does not finish until 4:00pm. That is about for hours of pure marching action, depending on where you set up your base. If you're looking to park yourself at 66th, or above, you need not show up before eleven. You'll still have front row access – but if you want to be south of there – well, be sure you know what you're in for.

What is the parade all about?

If you're picturing the Santa Clause parade, with floats and people throwing candy – well disconnect all those thoughts, because that is not what you are in for. As much as you'd like it to be true, there will be no over sized mechanized leprechauns on wheels. There will be no gifts tossed haphazardly, potentially injuring the screaming baby, or the mother that seems unconcerned with said child. But – if you want an inside look at New Yorks finest, well boy howdy are you in for a treat.

Within ten minutes you will have seen no less than one hundred soldiers, fifty naval offices, and a dozen or so marines. Give it ten more minutes, and you'll have seen any number of police officers, fire fighters, and – high school girls spinning batons? Sure, they're there too.

Now, for the most part you can understand why the military officers, some of which can become quite flirtatious with the young women screaming out, “which ones of you are single,” at just about ever new collective. You can even recognize why the marching bands and flag carriers from schools all around New York State would be in attendance. But, when the trio of gentlemen from Helsinki Finland stroll through? Well then it just all falls apart.

Still – you signed up for for hours of similarity themed people walking by over and over, and that's what you're going to get.

Without a doubt, the time will come when you think to yourself that the route runs in a circle, and has begun to loop. In fact, part of you might even think that the last parade ended only a week ago – just enough time to practice for the next.

But with patience it will all come to an end. You just have to stick through it. Watch as the different bands, and various emerald societies do their thing – playing the same music, and yelling the same catch phrases as the groups that came before.

Five things you will notice:
1. There are over one thousand fire fighters, and only three are female.
2. Are there any police in the rest of the city, with so many marching?
3. New Yorkers have no shame, making fun of those from upstate.
4. Women yelling for marchers numbers never gets old.
5. New York high school kids do not look like those on T.V.

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