Friday, March 23, 2012

St. Patricks Day at St. Patricks

Our hectic 'spring tour' found us out in New York visiting CptO and his bride 'E' over St. Patricks Day weekend. This year was the 251st St. Patricks Day parade in New York City, which makes is about 15 years older than the Declaration of Independence. The parade has been led by the 'Fighting 69th' infantry since before the US Civil War and son CptO is a Captain in the battalion, hence the connection and the reason for the visit.

CptO left the Forest Hills Queens estate at dark o'clock for a 5am arrival at the Armory in Manhattan. Tradition calls for the traditional toast of the regiment, one part Irish whiskey and two parts champagne, then a march up to St Patricks Cathederal on 5th Ave. Also in accordance with tradition, the unit commander knocks on the church door, which is opened by the Archbishop and they are invited in for Mass. CptO's partner in crime, CptBrandon, managed to get us some tough to find tickets for this event and the trio of myself, the VOR, and E made it in to Manhattan for the 8:30 start. It was pretty impressive. When it comes to putting on a religious spectacle, you just can't beat the Catholics. I think every politician from aldermen to Senators, Governor, and Mayor were there along with three Cardinals and a gaggle of Bishops and other church folk. The new Cardinal Timothy Dolan worked the crowd like a veteran politician. As he was passing by us on the way out after mass he leaned over the told some of the troopers of the 69th, "Be sure to go right home after Mass now boys". This triggered laughter that was perhaps a bit more raucous than church decorum allowed.

We watched the 69th lead off the parade and then watched about another 45 minutes of this marathon event. My beloved daughter in law offered the opinion that it was time for a beer and I heartily agreed. The three of us headed for Pete's Tavern, NYC's oldest continually operating bar, for lunch. It can make that claim because during Prohibition it was Pete's Flower Shop, still exactly the same bar, only with the protection of the shady Tammany Hall politicos. We then headed for the historic 69th Armory on Lexington Ave. We actually headed for the Armory Officers Club, where Harp and Guiness were on tap and they even had a Bushmills or two for the VOR. The only disturbing note was when the Irish Wolfhounds, the regimental mascots, showed up and the VOR immediately bonded with them. There is one thing that I'm dead certain I don't need and that would be an Irish Wolfhound.

The day rolled on inexorably and we eventually found our way back to Forest Hills at some point in the evening. The only downside was that some stinkin' thief heisted my wool jacket at a brewpub in Union Square. Since I had a couple blog business cards in the pocket and thought he/she might just take a look, I wanted to pass on the sentiment that I hope they expire of stomach cancer in a country where anesthetics are unknown. The VOR was horrified that I would even think of such a thing however, so maybe I'll just secretly hope that the jacket gets caught in a subway door.

A fine and very quick weekend, so quick that I didn't even attempt to hook up with my friends at the Sebago Canoe Club. Sorry people, maybe next trip. I would like to get out on the water in NYC and have that on the bucket list. In the meantime there is not a bit of ice on any lake within 50 miles of here. Gotta get off my butt and get out on the water soon!

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