St. Patrick’s Day Downtown LA Style


Much like every St. Patty’s for the last half-decade or so, I began my morning with a nice tall pint of Guinness and proceeded to whip up a traditional Irish breakfast of Irish Baccon, Eggs, and English Muffin toast (I couldn’t find any soda bread in the neighborhood). Main Street is quiet right now, not even a few enthusiastic souls indulging in an early pint at Pete’s. There will soon, however be a parade, and I will hit the pavement to cover it for you, our fair readers.

Approximately ten minutes later:

My dog is barking out the window at a group of mounted policeman, so I assume that means the parade will soon begin. Four huge horses are standing at the corner of Winston and Main, and a few pedestrians are gathered on the sidewalk. I suppose I shall finish off this pint and head down to the street….. Mmm. Guiness, so tasty.

Approximately five minutes later:

I’ve been out of my apartment twice earlier today. Once to take the puppy for a morning walk, the second time to pick up a few ancillary items for breakfast. Both times the streets were quiet, and you wouldn’t have been able to discern today from a warm day in the middle of November. This time I headed downstairs and miraculously, Main Street was transformed. There are bright, shiny green metallic St. Patrick’s Day balloons floating from every store front, street sign, and corner newspaper box, the streets are filled with revelers of all ages, a few youngsters are getting to know the horses that the mounted LAPD have brought in for what I assume is ‘crowd control’. A few of the half-way houses/employment centers down between 5th and 6th streets are bustling with activity, many of their patrons (don’t know if that’s the right word) are on the sidewalk, eagerly anticipating the parade. Which should begin in about ten minutes. Enough time for me to throw back for another pint, I believe. And away we go.

90 minutes later:

Well, the parade took a bit longer than I anticipated, but certainly livened up the neighborhood for a minute or two. It began with the scream of sirens and an organized motor dance by LA’s finest upon their motorcycles. The group of twelve (?) officers threaded through each other, doubled back, and zig-zagged like the blue angels of the black top, getting a rowdy response from the crowd, and beaming smiles at the youngsters, some of whom were covering their ears.

Next up, the LAPD continued to show off their wares, a series of squad cars, bike cops, and a trip through the years of the Los Angeles Police car; starting with those bulbous jobs in LA confidential and ending with one of the sleek new chargers, with everything in between. They even threw in a prop car from Robocop, which at this point seemed to be the fan favorite of all things parade.

The Choir Boys motorcycle club made an appearance. I have no idea who they are, so hold one second while I google them, fair readers. Ohhhh, their a “Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club”. Really bad-ass, gentlemen. They were followed up by the “Fire Hogs”, a fire-deparment MC. I’d much rather kick it with the Fire Hogs than the Choir Boys. At least the Fire Hogs had a few of their old lady’s on the backs of their bikes.

As a quick aside, in terms of commerce, there was a fair amount of what seemed to be drunks selling various St. Patrick’s memorabilia, silly hats, beads, and the such. No one really seemed to be taken by these hucksters, apparently everyone ordered their silly hats and beads from St.Patrick’, or something.

On with the parade, there was a brief pause in the flow of traffic, during which an old drunk sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to St. Patrick. No one had the heart to tell him he was entirely off base in regards to the holiday. Poor bastard.

The LAFD color guard was next, followed by the Police Emerald society and their ‘Pipes and Drums’ outfit, which threw things into another gear. Finally some tradition was marching down Main St. Fire Chief Doug Barry put in his time, waving from atop a vintage fire engine. I do believe Chief Barry is the first African-American fire chief in Los Angeles’ history. He seems very content with that achievement.

Things got a little tedious for a few minutes, a series of fire trucks from essentially the contemporary era, a few honks, some siren screams, typical parade fair. I wanted one of the fireman on the top ladder to spray the hose-gun doohickey into the crowd, especially at some of the yahoos pulling confetti guns every two minutes, the pieces of ticker tape kept on falling and getting stuck in my hair.

Then, things got a little crazy. Apparently this year Robert Patrick, yes, that Robert Patrick of Terminator 2 fame, was the Grand Marshall of the parade. He had clearly knocked a few back, and some genius had given him a microphone with which to ‘ramp up’ the crowd. He tried his damnedest, but was mostly interrupted during the best stretch by middle-aged women clamoring for a picture with him. A lucky young man was offered the mike in order to let out some sort of exuberant St. Patty’s well wish, but all he gathered to say was, “Cleveland Love!!!”. The crowd failed to react, and even Mr. Patrick was a little dumbfounded by the confused young man.

A bomb squad car rolled by, and everyone ooed and ahhed. Quite frankly, it was rather impressive, gargantuan, arachnid and jet black, our tax dollars put to good work.

The Irish Pride monster truck rolled by next, I was confused as to whether they were some kind of apparel company attempting to capitalize on a synergistic PR synchronicity or just there to have fun. People seemed to like them though. We had our first school marching band, Rio Hondo Prep, and the kids seemed very ebullient and marched right in time. Four Laker girls sat atop a roofless van of some kind, inexplicably along for the ride was a washed-up tattooed rocker, who might have been Nicky Six from Poison (Motley Crue? Before my time, dudes and dudettes).

Lorenzo Lamas came through next, who is actually a friend of mine’s next-door neighbor in the hills. Sorry Robert Patrick, but the cougars fell much harder for Renegade. It could’ve been the car. Mr. Lamas was in a beautiful 1936 white Cord, easily the most beautiful piece of machinery in the entire parade.

Perry Kind made a big show of waving and hollering to folks, though no one seemed to know who he was, thus reaction was a little tepid, not for his enthusiasm.

KEARTH 101 had a car, eerily silent roll by, which was disappointing, because I enjoy that station very much, especially on Sundays.

Olivia Tracey, adorned with a crown evidently won the ‘Irish woman of the year’ contest, what that means is anyone’s guess. My guess is that she paid off the judging panel. But that’s just man’s supposition.

Bombastic Irish contemporary blasted out of what appeared to be a reconnoitered Military Aguatic Assault vehicle next. The life of the party had arrived. The vehicle stopped for a few moments, everyone on the sidewalk began to move with the music, even the old folks tapped a foot or nodded their heads. These folks had beverages in hand and seemed to be ready to take advantage of St. Patty’s in all of its’ alcoholic splendor.

The Platies Irish folk band played more traditional Irish tunage from the back of a mint green 50s era Chevy pick up, they appeared a little tired, one of them was sleeping in the flatbed.

Two more marching bands were next, The Luther Burbank Middle School, the kids bright eyed and smiling, completely off rhythm and having the time of their lives, since they were miles away from class.

A Baja California band made its way up from Mexico, and they did not disappoint. They brought traditional Mexican horns into the mix, and the crowd went ape.

At this point it seemed like the parade would never end, and I really wanted a beer.

I’m glad I didn’t bail early though, evidently the city of Los Angeles has mascots for environmentalism. They are the “Clean-air Octopus” and “Mr. Recycle”. Two men were dressed in these costumes, full-bodied with headgear. Only in LA. Northview High School’s Vikings marching band brought up the rear. They were fantastic Trojan helmets and every member was wearing shades. They looked boss, and stayed in rhythm.

The crowd broke up fairly quickly after the parade concluded, lots of people heading to Pete’s. Hipsters dressed in all black with green shoes, a mass of them, walked across to the street to continue drinking at Bar 107. I believe that I will finish this pint and head out amongst the other downstownsters and see where this St. Patty’s takes me. I suggest you do the same. Get out of the house for a while. Have a drink. Thank the good lord we sanction this day to simply have a good time. Cheerio.

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