St. Pat’s Curse

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d post a passage from “MAD MAN KNITTING.”

We start getting ready for St. Patrick’s Day 6 months prior. This town is filled with people for a week, overshadowing Mardi Gras by far. We have the second largest St. Patrick’s Day in America and people are often confused to why this little town could have so much prominence. One could say it has to do with the huge Irish population. (From when we were a penal colony and the Irish were sent here to work off their debts), and others will say its because of our huge catholic population, but the best reason I heard was by a gentleman whose name I can’t remember, but said quite matter of fact, “It’s 72 degrees, the azaleas are blooming, and no one will stop you for having a cocktail on Bull Street.” So everyone was in a tizzy about getting down to the wire. However, St. Patrick’s curse was looming.

Oh, yeah. There’s a curse placed on this city if ever the parade falls on a day that isn’t St. Patrick’s Day. This particular year (2008), the church asked if the parade could be held on a Friday prior, because St. Patrick’s Day was Monday and during Holy Week. I guess they didn’t care for all of that drinking and mayhem during a time of lent. So, the powers that be decided to follow along and have the parade on a day that wasn’t St. Patrick’s Day.

The Friday of the parade it rained, not badly, but enough for it to be a nuisance. The Saturday following, a massive wind came rolling through the city, moaning with displeasure to some ill will…and suddenly, at roughly 8pm, maybe 9, the entire city went into a blackout. All the tourists down on the river were asked to pay up and head out and go back to their hotels. The police set up barricades at the major intersections and told people if they didn’t live downtown to simply turn around and go away. The blackout lasted all night, into the following morning, and by noon or so on Sunday, power was restored just as all of the party revelers were heading out of town. We later learned a tornado had hit the city’s power plant on the outside of town. Monday was St. Patrick’s Day…a number of people got drunk, but not because it was St. Patrick’s Day, but because it was Drunken Monday….I don’t recall anyone wearing green.

And why are there so many kilts and bagpipes on St. Patrick’s Day? Those are Scottish traditions, not Irish. Does anyone else feel…bamboozled by opportunists?

With all the fakeness around St. Patrick’s Day, my mother’s experience of St. Patrick’s Day is, I think, the most genuine of what that particular holiday is all about in Savannah. She and some girlfriends rented a hotel room downtown to enjoy the festivities. The evening prior to St. Pat’s, she and the ladies got wildly drunk. The next morning, still quite snockered, she and the girls went looking for breakfast and a Bloody Mary. They took the convertible my mother had at the time, all in their pajamas, hitting this massive crowd of people as they drove out of the hotel’s garage. They took a left accidentally and slipped inadvertently into the parade route. Yes, there was my mother and her friends in their pajamas, still drunk, looking for a Bloody Mary, smack in the middle of the floats and clumps of Irish Jig Dancers.

“Shit,” my mother said laughing, “We’re in the parade! Holy shit, we’re in the parade!!!”

What does one do in a situation like that? My mom drove on as though she was supposed to be there, chin up, flashing a smile, while her two girlfriends climbed on the back of the convertible and began to wave to the crowd. That is St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah. Not Scottish Kilts and bagpipes.


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