Citizens Report American Irish Culture

Danahey on the Loose as Emcee at the East Dundee St. Pat’s Parade

1888505_10202587500841813_543033890_nSo I was emcee of the East Dundee Thom McNamee Memorial St. Patrick’s parade Saturday. With an accent almost as bad as Tom Cruise’s in “Far and Away.”  In a snowman suit.

Hey, I’m pale enough to be one. And the outfit seemed apt for mocking the winter that won’t go away.

I was going to wear a black kilt, black t-shirt, black boots and a motorcycle helmet. There would be some step dancers dressed as they normally do – but wearing motorcycle helmets, too

Cue the music: Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, but all Irished up.

Alas, I could find no musicians or dancers to help.

Then I tried to find or rent a sheep or polar bear costume. No luck. Polar bear would have been a perfect nerdy joke as scientists have traced the species’ roots to what now is Ireland, as well as a nod to the lingering cold weather. To think, two years ago it was 80 for the holiday weekend!

Another idea was for a buddy and I to don Irish sweaters and caps and pass out potatoes to the kids, explaining an Irish tradition: In Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, the children leave their wooden shoes on a pile of peat outside the front door. The Saint’s helpers – called the Quiet Men –  leave potatoes in the shoes of the good kids – and throw them through the windows of the bad ones.

But the folks behind the parade opted for the snowman get-up, which came with a scary head. Scarier than mine, even.1958202_10202587508081994_1597404895_n

I don’t remember much of what I said, as I pretty much had to wing it from a list and some notes handed to me less than a half hour before the start. Thanks to my pal Liz, who’s a school teacher, for helping keep a modicum of order about the proceedings.

My buddy Jake was there to take photos for me. Another guy was taking photos and video with a drone.

Believe it or not, I had not been drinking.

Afterward, though, I went out for a bit, but thought better of it.

I miss the times when Shay Clarke held court every March 17 at Finnegan’s in Spring Hill Mall. Finnegan’s was pretty much as Irish as a Bennigan’s, but not a chain. It had a salad bar, for cripes sake.

But Shay and Traci had a store in that mall and made sure an actual Irish act would play. The crowd would be drinking and singing and there was a sense of community.

Saturday, the two places I visited had plenty of people in silly green outfits, but no Irish music.

The first spot hit – while it ain’t Irish, they had root beer beer and the Guinness was just $3.  And the music was all thud, thud, thud dance pop. They had all sorts of wacky shot specials, too, including the obligatory Car Bombs. And panties hanging from wires. Maybe they were bikini bottoms, as that was the name of the place.1618021_10202587506801962_531844848_o


I should not complain about my other spot, as a reasonably attractive drunk blonde grabbed me to “dance” with her – to George Thorogood’s version of One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer. Actually, I was her excuse for her to go on an empty stage and get people to watch her prance about. All we needed was a pole.

I looked around and felt old. It still confuses me as to why St. Patrick’s Day has become a frat boy version of Mardis Gras but few places in the Chicago area have Mardis Gras festivities.

I was done before 5 – and that was with splitting the shift and taking an hour break between stops – and home eating a pizza and searching in vain for an Irish movie to watch on TV.

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