As is traditional, Saturday’s St. Patrick’s festivities began in the East Village at McSorley’s, with people lining up outside as early as 5am to get one of the coveted tables up front in this, the oldest continuously operating saloon in NYC. Said tables were quickly blanketed in foamy mugs of ale, both dark and amber, with the occasional plate of corned beef, saltines, or raw onion providing some semblance of sustenance for the determined day-drinkers.
Most of the early birds at McSorley’s were well on their way to needing a long afternoon nap by the time the big parade stepped off in Midtown, as some 150,000 marched up Fifth Avenue before a cheering crowd estimated to be around a million strong. The huge number of spectators (it’s the largest such event on the planet), and the weight of history (this was the 257th time the Irish have marched on this day in NYC) makes the St. Patrick’s Day Parade a must for all city and state politicians, especially since organizers now “allow” gay groups to participate.
Among the officials spotted on the avenue: Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio (they marched separately, of course), City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (who unlike at Pride, did not dance), and Public Advocate Latitia James, who enthusiastically agreed to get in on any and all selfies with fans. There were pipers and drums, soldiers and high school bands, step dancers and large groups of seemingly random civilians tied together by their counties of origin back in Ireland.
Back in the East Village, as the day wore on, Second Avenue grew lousy with packs of young people who live elsewhere supporting such local establishments as the 13th Step, the Copper Still, Durden, and Finnerty’s. Equally entertaining were the fellows from New Jersey’s South Park and District Pipe Band, parading around to a number of area bars and causing glorious ruckus.