Saturday, March 11, 2017

Who Doesn't Love a Parade?

Gadsby's Tavern (Source)
As I have mentioned a few times recently, The Missus Herself and Your Humble Scribe spent the weekend of 3 - 6 March in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Specifically we stayed in Alexandria, on the banks of the Potomac River, within spitting distance of Our Nation's Capital.

(For those wishing to expectorate towards D.C. please do so now.)

Now truth be told I love that area of the country. Probably because I don't have to work there and deal with the traffic. But in my estimation it is a fine place to visit. Lots to see and plenty of excellent places to eat. (In D.C. and the surrounding countryside).

Now as anyone who has ever lived in or near a large city knows, one learns about those times of day (or year) when it's not a smart thing to do to perhaps travel in certain areas. Due to traffic and other hazards to navigation.

Like parades.

Alexandria has their annual St. Patrick's Day parade every year on the first Saturday in March. Why? I don't know. Believe me, I performed a cursory search of mankind's largest repository of information (the Internet) and could not find the reason. Then it struck me, I don't really care why theirs is the earliest. It just is. I'm sure they have an excellent reason for having their celebration on the first Saturday in March as opposed to having it closer to the actual day, which is (as far as this old Franco-Scots-Englishman knows) on the 17th of March. Said date being the day which St. Patrick did die, round about the year 461 AD. Yes, that's right, AD, Anno Domini, not that "Common Era" bull shite. (Pardon my French.)


We were in Alexandria and had a raging desire to have lunch at Gadsby's Tavern, which I kept referring to as "Gadsden's Tavern." No doubt a sign of either my weariness from the travel of the day prior or perhaps a sign of my advancing senility. Take your pick.

Gadsden Flag (Source)
Me? Confuse a fine old tavern with a flag? Sure, it happens. Gadsby / Gadsden, close enough for government work, right? Now where was I?

Oh yes, we wanted to do lunch at Gadsby's Tavern which is on the north side of King Street (kind of the main drag of Old Town Alexandria). We were on the south side of King Street at The Nuke's residence. Between me and the best French Dip and porter on the planet was a parade. As you might imagine, King Street was closed to through traffic (vehicular at any rate) and the south side of town was rather inundated with people looking to find a place to park near the parade route.

The Best Porter on the planet. (YMMV)
So we drove around for quite some time. Around and around and around the crowded streets of southern Old Town, until a space was spotted and we parked the vehicle. Now we were on foot and quite some distance from the tavern of my desire. (Sure the others wanted to eat there as well, but I'm fanatically devoted to the place. In a good and wholesome way, I assure you.)

When we got to King Street we saw the parade, the route itself was mobbed. Folks were standing along the street 3 and 4 deep in spots. We had to get across the street. Through two lines of spectators and the parade itself.

Audience members watch the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard march in the 2017 Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Alexandria, Va., March 4, 2017. The group marched alongside the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Marine honor guards for the half-mile-long parade. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jordyn Fetter)
The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard marches in the 2017 Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Alexandria, Va., March 4, 2017. The flight was composed of approximately 25 Airmen who serve to promote the Air Force mission by showcasing drill performances to recruit, retain and inspire. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jordyn Fetter)
The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard marches past a musical performing stage during the 2017 Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Alexandria, Va., March 4, 2017. The flight was composed of approximately 25 Airmen who serve to promote the Air Force mission by showcasing drill performances to recruit, retain and inspire. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jordyn Fetter)
(No, we actually didn't get to see the Air Force Honor Guard. But I included them, because, well, Air Force.)

Just when we thought we'd found a gap in the proceedings, these guys showed up...

Different parade but the weather was similar on the 4th of March. (Source)
Now if you've never seen these guys in their little cars, they put on quite a performance. Sort of like the Blue Angels. But on the ground, in little cars, and a lot slower, but yeah, very similar. They go back and forth, side to side, in formation, in singles, in pairs, and it lasts for a good 15 minutes. We got to watch their whole routine. Yup, we wanted to cross, but couldn't.

So we waited. I felt rather like a character in a movie. I had no interest in the parade (though the Shriners were pretty awesome), I just wanted to get across the street. Somehow it reminded me of the final bar shoot out in State of Grace. These guys are getting shot up while the St. Patrick's Day parade is going on outside.

Yeah, it was just like that. Only without the bar shootout and it wasn't in New York.


We finally got to break through the crowd on the south side of King, crossed the road in a gap between parade participants, and then through the crowd on the north side of King. We got a few angry gazes cast our way. But I didn't care, I felt like I was in a movie, I could almost hear The Dropkick Murphys playing in the background.

Yes, I have rather a wild imagination, it gets me through life and spices things up.

Then there's this, apropos of nothing really. But I was reminded of it, crossing King Street in Old Town Alexandria.

Except no one called me "bro," no one said anything in a Boston accent, and no one got shot in the head.

But I could hear The Dropkick Murphys, if only in my head.


  1. The teeming masses, methinks, had no idea of the peril of their situation, standing between you and your porter!

    Looking at the images of the Air Force Honor Guard with swords and rifles made me think of this...

    After getting a look at the shriner with the camera strapped to his head I'm having second thoughts about the whole gopro thing.

    My only real exposure to Boston came via the works of Robert B. Parker. I'd like to visit that place someday.

    Fun post!

    1. I have always gotten a kick out of that photo.

      And yes, the camera strapped to the head is odd. But if you wear a fez, who's gonna notice?

    2. Good point! Hey Earl, what's that on yore fez?

  2. You come down here sometime, and after we've hit all the military museums, I'll teach you how to cross a parade in progress and and do it with style. (Here, in addition to the barricades and the police along the parade route, many of the bands and dance krewes have escorts whose job it is to keep people from getting onto the parade path...but to people like me they just make trying and succeeding all that more enriching. Bring your mad ninja skills.)

    1. I would think that living in the Big Easy one would develop some mad skills in crossing parade routes.

    2. How did I know that if there was ONE person who could E & E his way across a parade route, it'd be Murph? Talent rises to the occasion I guess.

    3. Murph has mad skills, I've seen him in action.

  3. Great post, as usual. Thanks.

    Paul L. Quandt

  4. I lived there a long time back, half a lifetime ago. Spent more than I should have in Interarms's gun shop. I enjoyed spending time in Old Town.

    1. I always enjoy my visits there. So much to do.

    2. I used to live outside of Old Town. I missed the days when Interarms/Sam Cummings had the shop and warehouses there but their old gunsmith did a lot of work for me out of their old building.

  5. What a treat to see visored caps worn correctly!


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