Monday, June 17, 2024 Jun 17, 2024
88° F Dallas, TX

I Love a Parade

A discussion—not a glorification—of the Greenville Avenue St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

Space prevents a detailed chronicling of the exploits of yours truly in years past at the Greenville Avenue St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Space and decorum. Because when I say “exploits,” I really mean “misadventures,” and by “misadventures” I really mean “a trip to the Baylor ER for stitches in my head.” Then there was the time, as a bona fide float-riding parade participant, I used a three-man slingshot to hurl day-old dinner rolls at the dearly departed Harvey Martin, who was still living at the time and who was serving as a parade judge. I had to write an apology letter that year. (Again, I intended to shoot the dinner rolls over the judges’ heads, not at them. My bad.)

And here I should pause for a clarification. Since the inception of this magazine, in 1974, we have adhered to a strict ban on any glorification of secular celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day, classified by the Roman Catholic Church as a holy day of obligation in Ireland. (Though this year, for the first time since 1940, the day will be moved to March 15, because March 17 conflicts with Holy Week. Just so you know.) This anti-secular St. Paddy’s policy was put in place by our founder, Wick Allison, whose own birthday is March 17—which is funny, because Tom Stephenson, the guy who more or less started the parade in 1979, was a contributing editor to D Magazine when it launched. Anyway, to clarify: I am not herewith glorifying the Greenville Avenue St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

But the Greenville Avenue St. Patrick’s Day Parade is, to my mind, one of the very best things about Dallas. Don’t spend too much time thinking about this next statement, because it might not hold up under scrutiny: every great city has an annual outdoor mass gathering of its citizens for no other reason than, essentially, to enjoy each other’s company. That’s the GASPDP. Sure, there is a parade, and there are judges who judge it. But everyone knows the parade is only an excuse to close the street to vehicular traffic so there’s more room for socializing. Well, except for the terpsichorean ecdysiasts. They do seem to take the parade pretty seriously, if you catch my drift. As do the golden retrievers from the rescue society, now that I think about it.

The rest of us are there because it’s the one day a year in Dallas when you can see a cop wearing a necklace of plastic green beads. When you can welcome the arrival of spring and experience the sort of cockle-warming cheer that only comes from feeling part of a community. When you can push your wheelchair-bound friend down the street, actually get up a good head of steam, then hop up on the back of it, riding it like a shopping cart, crash into a curb, tumble into a giggling heap—and know that a good Samaritan will stop and spend 20 minutes helping you reassemble the wheelchair. Just talking hypothetically, of course.

I think Tom Stephenson said it best himself. This was just last year. Tom and his mustache were serving as judges. Between drinks of a mystery beverage that he had in a small brown paper bag, he told me something about the event he helped create, something that really put it all in perspective. I don’t remember what he said. Knowing Tom, it was probably too vulgar to print, anyway.

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