When I saw that the St. Paddy’s Day parades have been canceled this year, my Irish heart sagged. I can still hear the pipes and drums, and the screaming crowds in the greatest St Paddy’s Day parade I’ve ever seen. Loud and raucous, coming down 5th Avenue in New York City. Oh how we applauded the Irishmen, the firemen, the police, as they marched in their sexy kilts! They were all our heroes! It was a few years after 9/11 and my dearest friend, Rita Clay Estrada and I were there on writing business. But we made memories for a lifetime!
We went for a writing conference but that quickly took a back seat to the adventures of New York City. Everything was oh my, over the top! And we wanted to see it all!
We had never experienced such excellent restaurant service. The waiters and waitresses were the friendliest ever and made us feel special with every dish they delivered. Finally, we caught on that they were actors, waiting for their big break or hoping we had some influence in their business. That has to be harder than selling a book. We walked away with several PR packets, hearts heavy because we just couldn’t tell them we had almost no influence in anything.
We took a tour of The NBC studios where they showed a brief history of the early shows. I’m talking about the earliest TV shows ever. Since Rita & I are of a certain age, we remembered every single one with tears and laughter.... while our much younger tour group watched quietly. Was it really like that? Eventually we realized that they were staring at us in amazement. You remember that stuff? And we proudly said, "Yes, we do."
We went to the back entrance of One Rock Center, the one with the statue of Atlas holding up the world. On the ceiling is a huge mural of manual laborers, quite graphic and impressive. But the best part, if you stand on one side of the room, the workers painted on the ceiling face one way, but from the other side, they face the opposite way! Quite the artist to create such an optical illusion! We were intrigued! So much that when a couple came in, we pointed it out to them. They smiled and nodded. But Rita insisted that they share her enthusiasm, come with her to the other side of the room and see for themselves. She took the woman gently by the arm and motioned to the man. Yes, she did. You have to see this! You’ll always remember it.
And I’m sure they will.
Of course, we had to see the Twin Towers location. At that time, it was just cleaned up, two vacant holes scared into our history and memories. More tears.
On St. Paddy’s Day, we squeezed into a place along 5th Ave., across from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where we had been the night before and lit a few candles. It proved to be the best spot to watch because the bands stopped to play for the cardinals who blocked a section of the sidewalk for their own observations. Bagpipes echoed all around the city, but soon we realized that they were headed for us! Loud and raw and OMG wonderful! We cheered them on with tears and applause. These were our heroes, handsome in their stocky kilts, our Irish fighters who saved so many lives and lost so many of their own on 9/11.
Afterword, we had a bite and a beer at a nearby Irish pub. It was packed with happy Irish lovers. I bought a cap from a fine young man who was selling them for his precinct. I still have it. It says simply, IRISH. Yes, on that day we were all a little bit Irish.
Can you hear the pipes and drums? When I recall that day, I can. They’re seared into my memory. I still want to make it to Chicago, Boston, and of course, Dublin. I hear they have great St. Paddy’s Day parades. But it’ll have to be in another year.
I've been to Ireland twice and fell head over hills at the rugged beauty of the island, the music, culture, and mostly, the people. So, I wrote a few books about Irish hearts. They’re all on sale at www.marytateengels.com, this month! Hope you enjoy!