Saturday, March 13, 2010

St. Paddy's Day Parade: It's a Basic American Value

Double click on any photo for a full-screen view.^

Dan Chitwood blows his horn for the Norman Fishing Tackle Choir.^

There were no horses in he parade. There were dogs. Lots of dogs.^

This young woman was in the spirit.^

The O'Blues Brothers were present.^

Media Guy Gene Marrano (center) was a parade judge.^

Hair came both long ...^

... and short.^

The training starts early--too early?--for some of our beauty queens.^

OK, so they're not the Rockettes; they're cute.^

Chris Berry peddles his kids.^
The Norman Fishing Tackle Choir makes music ... ^

... and makes more music ... ^

... and finished with a flourish.^

Old Southwest had one of the few floats in the parade.^

The Scots were there with drums ...^

... and bagpipes.^

The Star City Rollergirls are our own rollerderby team (and yes, she could kick my butt).^

Wild hair? I'd say.^

Feathers on the head and hair on the face. Now that's British.^

Some facial hair wasn't hair.^

McGruff entertained the children along the way.

The Raleigh Court segment of Vikings was blowing its own horn.^

There were hats aplenty at the parade.^

Mamas and babies were not in short supply.^

The issue of jobs is ever-present.^

Some hats went on the face.^

Roanoke City Council candidate with his wife Anne (right) and his kids.^

One of these pre-teens has a great hat AND a great smile (which her buddies share).^

My daughter-in-law Kara wore the Catholic green and the Protestant orange. Kara's not one to start a fight over nothing.^

My son Evan and granddaughter Madeline share a moment.^

Roanoke, looking pretty cosmopolitan.^

And finally, my pal Jill Elswick and her damn ceegar.^

The Roanoke St. Patrick's Day Parade is a simple celebration of the playfulness in all of us, and with that in mind, I cannot fathom why this event is so heavily salted with military marchers.

As if to make a statement from the beginning, this year's parade was led by a group of combat-ready soldiers, giving candy to the kiddies, followed by a McDonald's float with Ronald McDonald aboard. There we had on display our penchant for war and truly awful food--as well as advertising--and the huge crowd was applauding, as if this is the way the world is supposed to be.

In any case, my incessant cultural bitching aside, it looked like nearly everybody there had a good time, including the obligatory politicians (some running, some not). Lots of mamas and babies, big green hats, my buddy Jill Elswick and her damn cigar, a smattering of orange (that would be the Protestants, as opposed to the Catholic green), fire trucks, dogs (no horses, thank God), those riotous Vikings of Raleigh Court and the estimable Norman Fishing Tackle Choir.

It was, after all the military crap, a good parade and a fine time on a spring day that Mayor David Bowers swears he ordered up special (he's a Hibernian, after all).


  1. Great pix as always, Dan. These are particularly good of people. Thanks for tolerating my cigar smoke. I know how you hate smoke!

  2. Great post!

    Great photos. To be honest, the pics and captions were great, but the reason I am posting a comment is because of that photo of downtown Roanoke. That photo is simply amazing!

    Great job! I just found your blog and might check back from time to time. I have run a blog for a couple of years at I don't update it as much and have moved on to a less local blog and other web sites. I update from time to time though!

    I was actually in the paraded driving a 1938 oren for the Roanoke Fire Fighters Association.

    anyways. The parade was great, the crowd was huge, and the event was a complete success!

  3. Jill/Fire: thank you both for the kind words (and, yes, Jill, the cigar is a cute prop, but douse it!)

  4. Those of us who came to watch the parade despite the weather forecast are grateful to whatever weather gods were kind to us.

  5. Dan - Those weren't actually my kids in the pedicab. I got separated from my wife and son before the parade started, so I had to recruit some random kids as passengers until I could find them. I have no idea whose kids they were.

  6. I too noticed there were no horses (I thought perhaps at least the mounted police) but I enjoyed seeing the dogs, especially the greyhounds. What a great day, looking forward to next year!

  7. Dan the reason for heightened security neat Ronald McDonald early in parade, was due to anticipation protest and possible actions against Ronald and McDonalds by the over the top folks from PETA. There supposed to be plains clothes offices, guess someone at PD had another idea.

  8. Perhaps the applause you noticed during the beginning of the parade was more to do with spport for McDonalds and their enormous contribution to our community through their charities and their support for this parade which helps make it possible Nd the entire Celebration free to the public

  9. Larry: McDonald's supports the community with RM House for kids while helping make our kids so fat they can't tie their shoes and sends them straight to diabetes and other obesity-related diseases. I am not impressed. The note about the police had nothing to do with my reference to the military at the head of the parade. And if they're getting ready to smack down a peaceful protest--even if it is by somebody you don't like--that's smacking the First Amendment of the Constitution right between the eyes with police state tactics.

  10. Dan its your blog so no doubt you'll get the last word but let's make certain that word is not as over the top as PETA's tactics, which btw sounds like you support. It's hard to fault PETA's ostensible mission, but it's no infringement on anyone's First Amendment rights to attempt to avoid their assault tactics. Go ahead and Google them for kicks. You sell short McDonald's contributions to our community, but it sounds as if you're pretty locked into a view that welcomes further examination or input. As the father of a healthy 10 year old who enjoys a good Happy Meal every so often, we recommend and encourage moderation for my daughter's eating habit. Seems to work just fine thank you. Finally, sad that you find issues with the 29 Infantry (D-Day Survivors) the Disabled Veterans entry in the parade. Thank them for your First Amendment Rights granting you the ability to make a living saying whatever comes to mind.