Group conformity scares the pants off me because it’s so often a prelude to cruelty towards anyone who doesn’t want to – or can’t – join the Big Parade. —Bette Midler
Yesterday’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Indianapolis might have been the biggest crowd turnout yet and, as promised, we have pictures. While temperatures were still a bit on the chilly side, it was not nearly as cold as last year, which may have encouraged a lot of people to abandon whatever they were doing and get out. Indianapolis throws a good parade and kids in town know it. They lined the curbs early holding bags and buckets with which to carry home all the candy. Parade participants can no longer throw candy from a float or even into crowds from the street. They have to actually hand the candy to someone. As a result, only those along the curb are likely to get anything. Indy kids know that and came prepared.
The St. Pat’s parade is a little different from other parades in that there are fewer (practically none) large colorful floats and more groups of people just walking down the street celebrating (sort of) their shared heritage. There are a lot of people of Irish descent in Indianapolis and they’re not the least bit shy about letting their Irish fly year round. As a result, when we take pictures at this parade we tend to focus on interesting people rather than large groups. Groups, especially large numbers of Catholic school kids looking as though they’d rather be in math class, don’t provide the story that individuals do. We try to zero in on smaller sets and individuals. When we do capture a group, it tends to be because there is something unique about them, like carrying folding chairs.
There were some notable differences in this year’s parade, at least from our perspective. Kat actually walked the entire parade route and got a good feel for the crowd while I stayed near the starting point and snapped pictures. Here are some of the things we noticed:
- Babies. Since it wasn’t bone-chilling cold this year, there seemed to be tiny ones all over the place. We’re guessing it has something to do with that whole Catholic ban on contraception.
- Not nearly as many dogs. There were Irish setters and other breeds in abundance last year, but we didn’t see nearly as many this year.
- References to alcohol were missing, or we just didn’t see them. There was no one in a Guinness costume nor any entry by local distributors.
- Fewer politicians in the parade. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett was there, of course, on foot, getting up close and personal with everyone. Surprisingly, though, he was the only one. Neither of the gubernatorial candidates were present (that we saw) and none of the City Council or Congressional candidates were present in an official capacity as part of the parade. However …
- An oversized effigy of Governor Pence circulated through the crowds. It wasn’t part of the actual parade and we never were in position to get a decent picture. The anti-governor sentiment was strong, though.
- Not as many media outlets participated. We didn’t see WISH (channel 8) at all and WTHR (channel 13) focused their coverage more on events around town. There weren’t as many radio stations this year, either.
- There was less candy being distributed this year. Last year, Kat had her purse full, which we hadn’t expected. This year, neither of us got as much as a dum-dum. Those kids along the curb were disappointed more than once as groups passed without handing out anything.
- Middle school kids still find the parade boring. We’ve noticed this before. The poor kids walking in the parade look as though they’re about to have teeth extracted. Perhaps some of those Catholic schools should reconsider. Let the kindergartners walk the parade. That would be interesting.
- Everyone loves to pretend they’re Irish.
Indy’s St. Patrick’s day parade isn’t the all-out spectacle of cities such as New York or Savannah, but it’s still fun and honors a culture and history that is still very present in the city. Here’s to parade and Irish and not waking up with a horrible hangover this morning!