The 20th St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Sean Murphy

The closer we get to St. Patrick’s Day, the more Irish everyone gets.

After a couple of glasses the people at the Bistro bar are speaking Gaelic.

The annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade started in that bar.

It was the night before St. Patrick’s Day and everyone was feeling pretty Irish.

We were telling stories of our favorite St Patrick’s day parades.

My favorite was Moniehan’s in New Orleans. Moniehan owned five bars in the French Quarter. His parade started at 10 in the morning, and every couple of hours the partiers lined up behind a bagpiper and paraded to Moniehan’s next bar. As they paraded, they painted a green line down the middle of the street. As the day wore on, and the bars were counted down, the green line got crookeder and crookeder.

One cop rode a horse behind the piper and the painter, and every time the horse pooped, the revelers sprayed the little piles with gold paint and then stuck a cardboard rainbow in the gold-painted poop.

They were celebrating the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

That night the stories were told and embellished until finally I said, “We should start our own parade.”

The mayor was there. She said, “I’ll get the permit.”

The bagman for the local Republican party was seated at the bar. He said, “I will get the sheriff’s posse horses.”

There was a kinda drunk guy at the end of the bar. He had two girlfriends with him and had a big red boat on a trailer in the parking lot.

“The girls and I will ride in the boat.”

The girls loved the idea. We had a float.

When the bar closed we had a permit and horses and a float.

The next afternoon, the Beach Bistro’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade greened its way out of the Bistro parking lot onto Gulf Drive.

Vin Mannix, a local writer, was St. Patrick and marched out front. We stuck a tennis ball on a hockey stick and painted it gold for his bishop’s staff.

Three cop cars followed Vin with lights flashing and the posse marched behind them on their horses.

Our two children and some of their little friends were dressed up in green and paint and sparkles and rode in an old lawn trailer that we gussied up green for the occasion.

A boom-box blared “When Irish Eyes are Smiling.”

And the guy-from-the-end-of-the-bar-with-two-girlfriends-and-a-big-red-boat brought up the rear.

The children referred to him as the-guy-from-the-end-of-the-bar-with-two-girlfriends-and-a-big-red-boat then and in all of our telling of the tales of that first parade ever since.

We hadn’t had time to notify the papers, so no one knew we were coming.

As we made our way down Gulf Drive, we stopped all traffic. People got out of their cars and stood on the sidewalk, and people stuck their heads out of their front doors and came out onto their porches.

Some waved and smiled, and others just looked perplexed.

I will never forget our children’s laughter on that day. They giggled and waved and danced around that old trailer.

Irish eyes were indeed smiling.

As years passed the parade grew. Bands and floats and animals were added.

Our children grew too, and their friends paraded as hockey teams and Indian princesses visiting from college. One year my son and his buddies painted the camel poop gold and stuck it with rainbows.

This year’s parade will be the 20th. I will dearly miss my children and their friends, but I will see their smiles on the thousands of little faces that will line the parade and look on in joy and wonder at bands and floats and animals.

And little Irish eyes will be smiling again.

The Beach Bistro’s annual St Patrick’s Day Parade has been held every year on the Sunday closest to St Patrick’s Day. This year that is Sunday the 18th of March. The parade will gather at 2 p.m. in the parking lot on the south side of Eat Here at 5315 Gulf Drive. At 4 p.m. the parade will commence and proceed north on Marina Drive and then Palm Drive to its conclusion at 78th Street and Palm Drive. All are welcome to parade or watch. Information is available by calling the Beach Bistro at 941-778-6444.