Nothing says St. Patrick’s day in Chicago quite like 80 degrees, sunny, sushi, not getting drunk, pacing up and down on Columbus Drive repeatedly, standing atop the roof of a bus, firemen from San Diego and a Detroit Lion’s pro-bowler plopping down next to you at a River North hot spot, right? Um, well you never know exactly what might happen in our world, but in fact all of things will forever become a part of the history of our St. Patrick’s 2012. The story you ask. Well I don’t mind if I do.
We left our South Loop apartment on Roosevelt at 10 a.m. this morning to walk about a mile up to Balbo and Columbus which was the designated meeting place for the Moriarty Clan, our hosts for the march in the parade. Neither CJ or I have ever marched in the parade so we were both pretty excited about the opportunity. Shortly after arriving and meeting up with our friends we were told that our staging area had been moved down to Roosevelt Street so we walked right back down to where we came from. As we arrived at Roosevelt street and found our bus it began moving north so we walked behind the bus right back up to Balbo. Have I mentioned that I decided I wasn’t drinking today?
Our bus driver made the unusual decision to open the roof hatch of the bus and let us get on top of the bus. I was one of the first ones up there of course. About ten minutes later a parade marshall came and put an end to the fun. I’m not sure why he though it was a problem to have people on the roof of a bus 25 feet in the air with alcohol involved but we deferred to his judgement. I got a couple of great photos up there though. My Dad
used to march in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. I never got a chance to do it with him but my Mom gave me this cool button with his picture on it so I brought it with me and I even showed him the view from the top of the bus. He liked it I think.
Most of the next few hours was spent hanging out next to the bus in the glorious 80 degree sunshine enjoying conversation with new friends. We met a lot of really fun people some of whom were actually wearing green and some of whom actually stopped to catch a glimpse (or two) of my fair-skinned, red-haired, dressed from head to toe in green very Irish looking girlfriend. Go figure! There was that group of firefighters from San Diego that I mentioned. Each year they go to a different parade. Last year it was Boston. Next year it will be Savannah. I think they liked hanging around our group because we had a lot of pretty young redheads and an awful lot of beer. Did I mention that I’m still not drinking? Last year the parade got underway on schedule at noon and I suspect it lasted about an hour. Today it’s going on 2:00 p.m. and we still haven’t moved from our staging area and the bus driver is forecasting that it will be about another hour or so before we get the go ahead to proceed into the parade route where we will be able to hand out (not throw) beads and candy to any desperate souls who are still managing to stand along the parade route after four plus hours of drinking in the sun. At this point I begin drinking. Lenten sacrifice or not I decide to have a couple of beers. A Guinness and a Smithwick’s to be precise. I might have even gotten a little tipsy since I’ve been off the sauce for a few weeks. They were probably the best tasting beers I have had in years.
The actual walking of the parade route was a fairly quick process. Maybe 15 minutes tops but it really was worth the wait. It’s an experience I wished I had tried sooner, but I was glad to have done it now and hope to be invited back in the future. I’m pretty sure my very Irish looking girlfriend will be remembered even if I’m not so I’d say the odds are fairly high for the re-invite. After the parade we needed food. The places close to the route were sure to be insane so we walked across the river to one of our mainstays – Hub 51. I’ve seen the Chicago River green before but never quite as beautiful as it was this year in the 80 degree sunshine. Look how it almost matches the color of our shirts one of which was bought at a store in Boystown last night at midnight. Can you guess which one?
Our arrival at Hub was about as we might have expected. A mid-level mob scene with a wide range of people ranging from drunken tools to fun casual diners. We were of the latter set and were lucky enough to get a table in about 5 minutes when the hostess recognized me after I chatted her up for a few minutes. We ordered the traditional St. Patrick’s Day fare. Sushi, nachos, salad and sparkling Voss water. Shortly after we got our nachos four guys walked in and sat in the booth right behind us. One of the guys glanced down at our food and said, “those look delicious.” I told him they were. I looked up and saw a backwards Detroit Tigers cap on the guy sitting with his back up against CJ’s. It was Matt Stafford. In case you don’t know Matt Stafford is the Pro-Bowl quarterback of my beloved Detroit Lions. I’m not a star struck sort of guy, but I thought it was pretty cool that he was sitting right next to us and I did say, “Hey Matt. Thanks for being a class act. I’m a big Lions Fan.” He said thanks and chatted for a second. CJ and I ate, talked about our day and then stuck to our commitment to split our day between recreation and getting ready for a busy week so we headed home. As we left I said, “Hey Matt have a great year. Have some fun and bring home a Super Bowl.” Now if that really does finally happen and it happens this year I will always and forever believe that it was my good luck wish to Matt Stafford on Saint Patrick’s Day that brought it to be. Who can ever question the luck of the Irish!