On St Patrick’s Day, Monday, March 17th, 2008 at 11am, the 35th annual Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day parade takes place in downtown KC, Missouri.
This is the big one. There are some very large parades in the metro area, but the main KC parade is, well, it’s bigger. A lot bigger.
The parade runs north along Grand from Crown Center to the Sprint Center.
Since the demise of the ICCKC, my favourite Irish abbreviation in Kansas City has reverted to being the KCSPDPC, which is not as hard to say as first glance might suggest. Seriously. Try it. It’s KCS-PD-PC. See?
Anyway, the Kansas City St Patrick’s Day Parade Committee has been working hard these last few years at bringing tangible improvements to the parade. For something so large the barriers have been a not insignificant addition, and for the kid in you the giant inflatables make you go ooh.
Bravely for a parade that comes with its own colour scheme, adopted country, and em, patron saint, the KCSPDPC picks a theme every year. The 2008 theme is “Growing Up Irish: 35 Years in Kansas City” so I’m expecting every partipating group to have a 35 year Irish person (who grew up in Kansas City) as the focus of their float.
The participants in the Parade are just doing it to get to a party before you do. They are competing for prizes. Each participating group is judged versus others in their same category: family, band, business, drill team, media, organization, trade or school. The bands and drill teams are judged on visual impact, quality of music and marchers in step. All other entries are judged on safety of entry, adherence to theme, originality of entry and visual impact. So when a family parades past you, and they strike you as being very safe, applaud loudly to help the judges.
The 2008 KC Parade Grand Marshal is Dan O’Mara even if I suggested otherwise. Dan was known for many years as Brogeen Malarkey, the Parade’s leprechaun mascot who Dan finally retired last year. Even more people in the city should know Dan for his work with Harvesters, and a small privileged few of us also know Dan from his days of performing as the central character Leopold Bloom in James Joyce’s Irish masterpiece Ulysses every Bloomsday in Kansas City.
Note a few things. Last time I looked the Power & Light District wasn’t finished. Construction means limitations for movement of traffic. Plan.
The barricades are there for your protection and they are every effective at helping you keep the spot that you deserve because you arrived first. To do that however means they make crossing the road difficult if not impossible. That’s how it should be; a parade is a-comin’.
So, go early. 2 years ago I had a policeman, small and obnoxious, send me on a route via Waldo just to get across the road at Pershing Place which is where one of the tails of the parade launched from. I ignored him and avoided a south KC detour by crossing via The Link.
The lesson for you in all that is not to be late like I was. The other lesson is that catching the bus might make you late, as their service won’t be too predictable. Some buses never showed at all out in Waldo, and one I finally got took 2 months to get downtown. Oh, and the other lesson is check your car isn’t leaking oil before you set off.
Drink & Violence
Over the last 10 years I’ve attended a fair few parades. There’s a lot of nonsense spoken about both drink and violence. In contrast with most events of the day the people I have witnessed at the parade have been sober. Thousands of them. Sober. Yes I have seen a few drunks there, but nothing to write home about. And I say that as somebody given to writing home.
I have witnessed the full length of the parade and both sides of the street. For the most part the crowd has always been a family crowd and a good-humoured one. Because of an incident in 2006 the Star reported that the parade had become dangerous and troublesome compared to previous years. This was nonsense as proven by report of KC Police Board a week or so afterwards.
The bottom line is that some people in Kansas City, and they would be white, don’t like seeing black people. They especially don’t like seeing black people at what they believe is an event for white people. They are the same people who think you can’t live anywhere in midtown without being attacked by black people. On March 17 in Kansas City sober black people will always scare them more than tens of thousands of obscenely drunk white people.
If your son or daughter drinks too much and acts like a pig, it probably isn’t the fault of the parade committee.
My Own Preference
Having observed a lot of parents and kids close up at the parade here’s my thoughts: The parade is too long. Dump half of it, and up the quality of the rest. Why? You could read what I said about last year’s parade.
As ever, Larry Moore will be broadcasting the parade on KMBC-TV
Here’s some photos of the parade I took a couple of years back:
• Liberty Tax
• KC Irish dance to the end (almost)
• KC Drill Teams Salute Irish Rebels
• Mickey’s Rockin’ Caboose
• KC Irish World Small (After All)
• Overblown Stereotypical Irishman Falls Down, Crowd Looks Other Way
For years the KCSPDPC has maintained an excellent website