Sunday, March 19, 2006

Third Largest St. Paddy parade in the WORLD!!

Going into Cleveland I knew that the St. Paddy Parade was starting around 1pm in the downtown area. By the luck of the Irish, it was going to be ending right in the vicinity of the Marriott hotel, where we were staying.

That was the good news.

The bad news is that the weather was beautiful, through a trifle frigid, and close to a quarter million people were expected to converge to the downtown area.

I was trying to time my arrival to avoid being re-routed by the parade, thus ruining my Map Quest instructions and throwing everything into a flux. I was successful and rolled into the Public Square area a little before noon. Yet, too early to check into the hotel!

I did have to drive around downtown and circle the area to find the hotel! I was on the verge of rolling down a window and asking help from one of the many police officers (now they are my friend) positioning around the parade route area. As I located the nearest office, lo and behold, he was standing underneath the (suble) Marriott signage. I had to circle the block one more time, looking for a parking structure. There was none to be found, so I entered the front of the hotel and was immediately pounced upon by a guy with a clip board. He opened the car door for me, asked if I was staying at the hotel, informed me that it was crazy (duh) and too early to check in, the lot was full but they would park my car, return it when I wanted to retrieve my luggage, I could charge valet parking to my room (which I still did not have), here is your ticket.....have a nice day.

I grabbed my camera, the wonder hat and my make up bag. Silently offering up a prayer to God that I had pulled the rollers out of my hair moments after exiting the Expressway.

If you ever see a woman driving down Expressway with a ton of rollers in her hair, looking like a space alien, it is more than likely me.

I hit the streets and began to mill with the crowd forming to watch the parade.

It was bitter cold, and I was in awe of all the highschool age kids who are immune to sub-zero temperatures. There were literally thousands and thousands of them running about with nothing more that green t-shirts over another long sleeved t-shirt, walking huddled forward, laughing and yelling at each other and blowing those large green plastic horns that are inevitable at these venues. And the teenage girls with short mini skirts and knee high green socks!! Arms crossed over their chests for warmth.

Oh to be young!

To describe the crowd and do it justice is beyond my capabilities. It was like a living breathing thing, constantly changing and growing...and crossing the streets.

As the crowd reached critical mass, I realized there was no way I was going to be able to see the parade unless I climbed up in something, like the shoulders of a six foot ten strong (very strong) super man. Not going to happen.

So I wandered back to the hotel area knowing that the parade was going to make a turn after marching down Superior and end at the Public Square, directly by the Hotel.

It was there I got some nice photo's with my new camera.

Every single Pipe and Drum band in the Ohio area was in the parade. It was fantastic!

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