Amid declarations of “Oh my god, this is ridiculous!” and “I gotta pee!” the 30th annual St. Patrick’s Parade stepped down South Salina Street on Saturday, March 17, during one of those rare occasions when the parade falls on an actual St. Patrick’s Day. While the previous 29 editions managed to lure downtown thousands who ignored the snow, sleet and frigid weather traditionally associated with mid-March, unseasonable temperatures that climbed into the mid-70s and sunny blue skies resulted in a mega-gaggle of green-clad oglers that at times ran 15 deep as they craned their necks to glimpse the merry marchers.
Indeed, for those who didn’t get there early (with some latecomers parking past Salina Street’s Salvation Army), watching the parade itself amounted to a lost cause, although there were still plenty of sidewalk sights. There was the senior citizen who had his hair dyed a too-bright lime green; the young male who just had to doff his shirt and display his Coppertone-less skinny physique (ooooch, the sunburn he must have gotten!); the trio of misses who somehow clambered more than six feet up and onto the window ledge of the Gridley Building (“My boyfriend boosted us up,” explained one of the ladies) for a ringside seat; and some major crunch time occurring in front of the Landmark Theatre.
The severely diminished presence of Occupy Syracuse at Perseverance
Park featured a 99-percenter staffing a table devoted to the
Meanwhile just a few yards away,
parade-goers wielded their cellphone cameras to capture what was once called a Kodak moment, as a frazzled female emptied her spirits, so to speak, onto the sidewalk, while her male friend assisted by gallantly holding her head down near his knees. The scene was probably downloaded onto the Internet minutes later.
Then again, liquid consumption was essential to beat the heat, with all sorts of refreshments available. The trailer/traveling barroom that was parked in the lot across from 500 S. Salina St. sported the poster, “The liver is evil. It must be punished!” At least one entrepreneur was benefiting from the action, as he slung over his shoulder a garbage bag stuffed with discarded beer cans and water bottles.
There was some initial concern regarding a drop-off in attendance because the Syracuse University basketball team’s NCAA Tournament game was slated for the same time as the parade, but the summer-like weather still led to a massive turnout. So for those who actually wanted to see the parade, there was better luck hustling over to Erie Boulevard West to see components of the lineup as they patiently waited their turn—and that queue stretched nearly to Geddes Street.
Sure and begorrah, ’twas a strange new world, too, as Shriners dressed as clowns, a lone kilt-wearing bagpiper hung out on Plum Street, WNTQ-FM 93Q’s morning jock Ted Long showcased his svelte new look, costumed Yogi Bear and Boo Boo characters were practicing their waves and the Avant-Garde student band from Oneida’s Holy Cross Academy were tuning up. Four-wheeled contraptions also ran the gamut from a Wells Fargo stagecoach to a balloon-bedecked vehicle piloted by Moe’s Southwestern Grill employees who handed out coupons for free tacos. And the float driven by the School of Irish Dance offered a public service by blaring the radio broadcast of the SU hoops game from its stereo speakers. Which, of course, led to a frightening thought: If SU had a later game that freed Orange fans to take in the parade, the attendance would likely have swelled to truly epic proportions.
Celebrity skin: Among the beautiful people sighted at the St. Patrick’s Parade were Everson Museum of Art public relations director Sarah Massett (above), big-head versions of Syracuse University men’s basketball player Brandon Triche and parade founder Nancy Duffy (bottom), and a banner honoring Syracuse native Sister Marianne Cope (facing page), who will be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 12.