More adventures in American culture. This time, experiencing a Texan take on Irish traditions.
There was a Spring Break now? Between internships, the job hunt, and working on projects still to be completed from the last term, what was supposed to be the last Spring Break ever turned out to be more or less a normal week. Which admittedly is kind of disappointing, given the missed opportunity to go and travel.
Despite this, I was able to experience a Dallas tradition yesterday, the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade. Held on the Saturday before St Patrick’s Day, the parade and subsequent block party attracts over 125,000 people every year. Whilst it is billed as a family event, it is mostly known for its drinking, being one of the few events where it is legal to drink out on the street in Dallas.
As it happens, the parade travels down the length of Greenville Avenue, meaning that I was literally living over the fence from it. This also meant that getting to and from places yesterday was going to be impossible due to road closures. Even the night before, fences were being put in place, and parking lots were being closed off to create concert areas and portaloo cities.
After a late night, I awoke far too early to hear the sound of a DJ blasting hip-hop music from a party that had camped out along the avenue. Apart from them, the streets were still relatively devoid of people, though not for long. A few minutes later, thousands of runners swarmed past, running the annual 5k charity dash along the parade route (on an unrelated point, I’m convinced 5k runs are a stealth plot to get Americans to adopt the metric system).
Not long after they passed through, the crowds started to come, first filling up the parking lots over the fence, and when they were full, spilling over into the parking lot for my apartment block. Groups of revelers decked from head to toe in green passed my window on their way to the avenue, dragging eskies full of beer behind them.
Much like for the recent snowpocalypse that never was, I discovered that I was running extremely low on coffee (my timing in these matters is impeccable), and so I headed out of the apartment towards the supermarket. The street was a sea of green, and even at 10am the revelry was in full swing, with beers flowing. Already the crowds at the fence were three deep awaiting the parade.
The supermarket itself was still open, and doing a brisk trade in beer (mainly Guinness to mark the occasion) and snacks. Disturbingly, I saw many people buying Fosters lager. This is troubling, since Fosters is neither associated with Ireland or beer (incidentally, Fosters was started by an American immigrant, which explains a lot). The only possible explanation was that people were already too drunk to notice.
Having averted disaster yet again and brought coffee back to the apartment, I decided to join in the festivities. I grabbed a beer and hopped over the fence to watch the parade pass by. The parade itself was a weird melange of cultures, mixing Irish (pipe bands, copious amounts of the colour green), Texan (margaritas, green tortillas), German (parades of trailers filled with people a la Karneval), and Cajun (instead of candy, the people in the trailers threw strings of beads to the enthusiastic crowds). It was simultaneously confusing and enchanting.
The parade took almost an hour to pass, but once it was gone, people remained, the party continuing all afternoon in the street. By nightfall however, the revelers had moved on to the giant block party further south, and the street outside my apartment had returned to something resembling normality.
It would have been nice to go and enjoy the block party, but work called. I returned to the apartment and, in true nerd fashion, celebrated Pi Day with a pizza and a beer, before getting back into projects.
A brief and somewhat strange interlude in an otherwise mundane week.
It’s hard to believe, but there’s only eight weeks left in the MA/MBA program. In two months time we will have graduated. It’s a scary thought. The time really has flown by.
Observations on music, coffee, and the occasional controversial thought.
Copyright © Gerard Atkinson 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the owner is strictly prohibited.