James and I went downtown to watch the St. Patrick's Day Parade this afternoon. We also attended the 2005 Santa Claus Parade last November which permits me to juxtapose these two downtown Toronto parades.
With the Santa Claus Parade, you have to show up hours early and fight for a good spot with decent sight lines. Neither was true today. We showed up a half hour early, but we didn't have to. We could have arrived seconds before the parade began and we would have been able to find a good spot with a curb seat for James. The attendance at the St. Patrick's Day Parade is a small fraction of what I see at the Santa Claus Parade each year, and that's probably because St. Nick scores all the high budget floats, but therein lies the charm of this afternoon's event.
There's a folksy and fun relaxed vibe to the St. Patirck's Day Parade. It almost seems like it was thrown together on pretty short notice on a shoe-string budget. They'll take a TTC bus, decorate it in green clovers, and call it a float. A series of fire trucks with their sirens on is a float. A big family wearing green hats can walk together and be a feature. I saw a couple of ladies wearing green and walking their dogs treated as a float. None of this flies at the Santa Claus Parade.
With less pressure to impress the masses, you can see some damn funny floats at the St. Patrick's Day Parade. One was called "The Heartbreak Hotel" and claimed Elvis was alive and living in the retirement home of County Cork. Another featured the "Roadkill Cafe" and showed the Hillbillys Clan 46. It was a hilarious rib at bumpkin culture and it would never be allowed in the Santa's parade. The Hillbilly taxi was too funny. Heck, Zanta even got to take part in this parade whereas I saw a copper eject him from Santa's parade.
And finally, the conclusion of the Santa Claus Parade is always the big Santa float. Naturally, the conclusion of the St. Patrick's Day Parade is the arrival of St. Patrick himself. He rolls by in the back of a pick up truck in some Popemobile phone booth thing and waves. Hastily pasted to the side of the pick up are the words "St. Patrick 389 A.D. - 461 A.D.
God, I love being Irish. I can't wait for next year's parade. Here's everything I snapped today.