The best thing about having a parade is watching the kids watching the parade.
At the Bistro St Paddy’s parade, their faces are bright with glee and green with face paint and sparkles.
Judy, the parade elephant, was the heart of the parade and inspired much delight in all those little faces.
We all miss Judy.
She was a true parade elephant. Judy and her keeper, Mr. Bones, paraded together for over 40 years.
Mr Bones is not a Chatty Kathy.
He spoke with me of his relationship with Judy only once.
“Yup. Been with Judy 40 years.
Forty years. Three wives. One elephant.”
Judy loved the parade. She danced north from the parade’s beginning with a lightness to her step and a musical sway to her massive hips.
There was joy in her gait.
We always walked Judy back from the end of the parade. Her post-parade gait was more of a saunter. She would stop to pluck at leaves on trees, squeeze the bejeezuz out of a Coke can, check out a chocolate bar wrapper.
There was elephant sighing. Elephant ennui.
The marching bands and the cheering and the happy faces were a closed chapter for another year.
People ask why we do not get another elephant. Aside from the emotional answer that there is no other elephant and could be no other elephant, the other elephants I have met scared the poop out of me.
One year Mr. Bones had some family business, and we weren’t sure they could make it on time.
We got an insurance elephant just in case.
I never did catch the name of the insurance elephant. She was just Other Elephant.
She was bigger and hairier and smellier than our Judy.
Judy did arrive on time and stepped out proudly to lead the parade.
Ten minutes later Other Elephant was nowhere to be found.
I turned to Fred.
“I can’t find the other elephant.”
Fred, wryly, “You don’t get to say that every day.”
The keeper finally showed up with Other Elephant. He explained that she was getting a little anxious with the noise and crowds so he took her for a stroll.
Other Elephant was now rocking back and forth from one huge foot to the other, and shaking her massive head.
And she was snorting – not snorting like a pig or a horse, but snorting like three tons of elephant.
I looked at the keeper. “Do you think we should let her get started.”
He responded darkly. “Yup. Starting would be good. “
I watched with some apprehension as the beast lurched off into the parade.
The lady from PETA wrote to me about Judy.
She is the same lady that writes me about foie gras.
I love foie gras. I have written on our menu that I will stop serving foie gras when they peel my cold dead fingers from my fork.
One time the PETA lady wrote me that I should be aware that the mortality rates on duck farms that produced foie gras was much higher than the mortality rates on duck farms that did not produce foie gras.
I wrote her back that I suspected that the mortality rates on duck farms approached 100 percent whether they produced foie gras or not.
When she wrote me to complain about Judy, I assured her that we were not going to eat Judy, that she was just marching in the parade.
Every year the Beach Bistro St. Patrick’s Day Parade is celebrated on the Sunday closest to St Patrick’s Day. This year that is Sunday, March 18.
We will miss Judy again this year but her two buddies, the camels Omar and Nasser, will parade in her memory.
Camels are truly mystical beasts for the Irish.
It is said that they can go for weeks without drinking.