I am still amazed and surprised by the amount of Irish pride that happens in this city. Saturday morning, as I drove up Broadway to get to a yoga class at the Kauffman Center, I could see that preparations were already under way to get the Sunday parade route ready. Westport was closed off to all vehicle traffic. Michael had given the Cabbage the choice of attending the Brookside Warmup Parade or the Actual St. Patrick’s Day parade. I think she chose wisely with the warmup parade because this one seems to be more kids and less drunk adults. The Brookside Neighborhood puts on what they call the St. Patrick’s Day Warm-up Parade. It’s close to the house with a decent amount of neighborhood street parking, but Holy Goats people. This thing was packed.
We parked our car several blocks away from the parade route and then walked, along with crowds of other families (so many strollers and wagons), to find a viewing spot. Our walk took us right past the parade staging area, giving us a preview of all the parade entries and I sort of stumbled along with my mouth agape because there were a lot of people in this parade. Now the main St. Patrick’s Day parade in KCMO is the second or third largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the country. This year’s Grand Marshal was Eric Stonestreet from Modern Family. I’ve only ever seen bits and pieces of this parade. We’d taken the Cabbage to the Brookside parade years ago sort of by accident. We were in the area and thought ‘why not!?’ This year we planned for it and I still feel like we did not plan well. We didn’t get there early enough to establish a good spot. We didn’t take chairs or water. I did give the Cabbage a shopping bag for candy, but she tore it to pieces while frantically waiting for the next bit of candy to come flying her way. I had to duck into the Panera Bread and beg for a bag with handles.
But the weather was so nice.
The thing I like about the Brookside parade is how much it reminds me of the kind of parades we’d have in Collinsville. The floats, if there even is one, are not fancy. They are constructed of cardboard boxes carefully spray painted and taped down onto flat bed trailers. Those trailers are pulled by a reliable truck or a tractor. There are antique cars and a couple of drum line step groups. Decorated bicycles ride in groups and dogs are walked along with green leashes. The parade route is crowded with kids holding out bags and racing for candy that is being thrown out into the crowds. Then there are floats devoted to different Irish families and they all smile and wave and wish you a happy St. Patrick’s Day. At one time, in the late 1800s to early 1900s, Kansas City claimed the second largest population of Irish immigrants. Much of the landscape and roads in the downtown area of the city were built by Irish immigrants. We’ve all heard how St. Louis is the gateway to the west. Well, I think that statement is wrong because Kansas City was the staging ground for anyone headed out on the Santa Fe, California or Oregon trail. All of three of those trails started out right here.
Kansas City was a port of hope for something better than they had at home which was famine and depression.
I guess it’s interesting to me because it is so very culturally different from the events I grew up with. Livestock shows and rodeos. Stomp dances and Indian tacos (good god, I haven’t one of those in ages). Pioneer Days and Rooster Days. Here we have Irish Fest and Santacaligon Days. I moved here in 2011 and I am still surprised how much I really like living here. I won’t say ‘love’ because there’s no ocean and winters (particularly this last one) are horrible, but for the most part it’s been a pretty good place to stay put for a while.