My paternal grandparents came from Ireland, and my father even spent some of his formative years in The Glen of Aherlow, County Tipperary. Someday I'd like to visit this country I've heard so much about, but until then I have to satisfy myself with the next best thing, Chicago.
On St. Patrick's Day, being Irish and being a Chicagoan are synonymous. I've been celebrating in this city since before I could stand (and, during some of my college years, I could barely do that!). There are so many things I love about my hometown, and this holiday brings out some of my favorites:
1. Dyeing the Chicago River green:
Isn't it gorgeous? The city uses some top secret vegetable dye concoction I probably don't want to know too much about. It doesn't last long, which makes us all appreciate it all the more.
2. The St. Patrick's Day Parade, downtown Chicago. It isn't what it used to be, but it's still a great experience for the kids. When I was younger, it was always held on the actual holiday, but that resulted in too many kids ditching school. Um, not that I would have done anything like that. One other thing I wouldn't have been caught dead doing is adding Peppermint Schnapps to my Shamrock Shake. Never. Uh-uh.3. Irish Dancers--before Riverdance, before they started wearing heavy pancake makeup and crazy wigs, young Irish-Americans learned how to dance a jig in smelly Catholic school gymnasiums. Now, there are Irish Dancing schools popping up everywhere, with kids from all walks of life practicing reels and begging their parents to take them to an Irish feis.
4. Green beer. I don't even drink beer and I think it's cool.
5. Irish Folk Music--Chicago has long been home to incredible Irish folk bands. Numerous friends and cousins drifted in and out of these groups, but one from my teenage years is still performing and sounds incredible: Baal Tinne. Have a listen to the band at Milwaukee Irish Fest.
So, Happy St. Patty's to you all! Wear green--everyone's Irish today!