Prepping for St. Pat’s
Carnival has come and gone and we’ve survived, but gird your stomach, catching arms and flasks because St. Patrick’s is upon us.
I live in the Irish Channel and my birthday is the day before the official holiday, so the Saturday before – and really the entire weekend – is a celebration. My husband and a bunch of his friends march with the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Club, which is part of the festivity and parade that occurs the Saturday before the holiday. So between that, my celebration and the fact that if I move my car between early Friday evening and Sunday night I won’t be able to park within at least six blocks, I go all in.
We often have friends in town, if not staying with us; my in-laws come up from the Lakefront; and I’ve been known to take naps in my own house, wake up and rejoin the party that pretty much continues all weekend.
I know that all of this – the parade, the conviviality, the partying – sounds very much like Mardi Gras, but there are large differences:
- This is only one day. Instead of two (or more) marathon weeks, this is one full-out day, but be careful you don’t peak too early or you’ll either not get to see the rest of it or not remember – both poor options.
- One color (green), instead of three (purple, green and gold). But here if you don’t wear that color (even to the parade, you purists) you’ll probably get pinched.
- You’ll probably eat and drink something green. With all the green beer, green Jello shots and cabbage (thrown from floats, see below), there’s something green for everyone. But my advice is to wash down whatever you choose with some Jameson – an Irish choice that goes down easier.
So what do you need to know?
- Wear green. The crazier or more flamboyant the better.
- Watch your head. Though you should have some practice for this from Mardi Gras, you may not be expecting cabbages, packages of carrots and boxes of Lucky Charms and Irish Spring soap. The cabbages are especially dangerous if you’re not looking.
- Be ready to walk. If you do the parade properly (in my opinion) you’ll catch it twice: Once at the beginning on Jackson Avenue (though watch out for the new barricades there that get in the way of your interaction with the marchers) or St. Charles Avenue, and again on Magazine Street for the full experience.
- If you’re not a fan of being touched by strangers, this may not be the event for you. The marchers – almost all men, except for the Daughters of Lir and some of the float riders – will often give you a kiss (usually on the cheek) in exchange for their throws, most often beads, silk flowers, garters or stickers.
- You will get sticky. Between the heat, the humidity and the whiskey, you’ll likely end up with a few stains you may not be able to identify, so plan accordingly.
In addition to the tips above, which are mostly geared toward the parade, the parties continue all weekend long, and this year also on Tuesday, St. Patrick’s Day, at both Tracey’s (starting at 11 a.m.) and Parasol’s (starting at 10 a.m.).
If you don’t fancy celebrating in the Channel, Molly’s at the Market Irish Parade begins at 6 p.m. the Friday before; the Italian-American St. Joseph’s Parade is also on Saturday starting at 6 p.m.; and there’s more than a weekend of events at chef Matt Murphy’s The Irish House (visit TheIrishHouseNewOrleans.com for details).