Friday, March 16, 2007

March Madness? Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day...

The middle of March means different things to different people. Fans of Victorian-era fiction think of George Eliot’s Middlemarch. For Julius Caesar via William Shakespeare, the “Ides of March” were a time to watch your back and beware of “friends” wielding knives. “Et tu, Brute?”, and all that, a mere 2,050 years ago yesterday.

For me, and I expect the same is true of many road trippers, the middle of March means one thing. OK -- maybe two, if you count college basketball. Or three, if you include Spring Training.

The thing I’m thinking of is, of course, that favorite springtime celebration: St. Patrick’s Day, when every red-blooded American goes crazy for all things green –little green leprechauns, leafy green shamrocks, even green beer. Every other American seems to claim some sort of connection to Ireland (where St. Patrick is the patron saint), and even those with no ancestral links to the Emerald Isle join in the fun.

This year St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday, so the usual Irish-themed bacchanal will no doubt be wilder than ever. Along with the all-night partying, many cities celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a parade. The largest parade is in New York City, where upwards of 2 million people take part. Even more fun, perhaps, is the St. Patrick's celebration in Chicago, where at 11am on St. Patrick’s Day, the Chicago River magically turns vibrant green. (An eco-friendly, vegetable-based green, rest assured!)

Boston and San Francisco both have parades and parties as well, and a few less famously "Irish" cities show they know how to have fun, too. Beautiful Savannah, Georgia is a prime example: come Saturday morning, some 400,000 people are expected to fill the streets of this fabulously hospitable Southern city.

A road trip tradition is to head west (or east) and get your kicks in the great little Route 66 town of Shamrock, Texas. Best known for its landmark Conoco Station-cum-Café, called the U Drop Inn, Shamrock does St. Patrick's as only the Texas Panhandle can: kicking off with a rodeo, then running through a parade and classic car show.

And if you know of any great St Paddy's party I should've mentioned, let me know and I'll check it out. Have fun!


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