There may be no larger festival in the Quad Cities than the St. Patrick's Day parade on the closest Saturday to St. Patrick's Day. Put on by the St. Patrick Society of the Quad Cities, it's billed as the only bi-state parade in the United States. It starts out in downtown Rock Island, crosses over the Mississippi on the Centennial Bridge, and ends on 3rd St. in downtown Davenport. It features floats, bag pipers, family clans, school groups and all types of people dressed in crazy and outlandish costumes. And they're flinging beads and candy to crowd. It's a really large time.
Our next door neighbors, George and Hannah (shown here with some rather large drunken idiot, according to my wife who took the picture) had never been to the St. Patrick's Day parade before. George is Irish and they were planning a little party at their house after the parade. He made some GREAT corned beef. Oh, man. It was absolutely fabulous.
Anyway, we went downtown just after noon for the parade. The parade starts at 11:30 over in Rock Island and it takes about 45 to 50 minutes for it to make it over to downtown Davenport. Starting at 11:30 allows the participants - and spectators - ample time to get good and lubed up for the parade. Here's a couple ladies having a good time at KilKenny's before the parade.
Cindy, George and Hannah ended up in front of Mac's Tavern along the street. I went down 3rd St. a ways to take pictures of the parade. As always, click on the picture if you would like to see a larger image.
It's wall to wall people along the parade route. There are four bars at the end of the parade - Mac's Tavern, Carriage Haus, KilKenny's and Shenanigans. Each of them are packed with people before and after the parade. In fact, I was told one time by a Davenport cop that more people are picked up for drunk driving on the Saturday of the St. Patrick's Day parade than at any other time.
You can't have a St. Patrick's Day parade without bag pipers. Which leads to the inevitable question - what does a bag piper wear under a kilt? Why, shoes and socks, of course!
Here's one of the largest Irish clans in the Quad Cities - the Kinney clan. They're so big they put people on the flatbed of a semi during the parade. They've been in the parade for years and the family just seems to grow exponentially each year.
The parade features military personnel, ROTC groups and other municipal groups such as firemen and policemen. They also have "Peace-niks" in the parade. Here's an Irish guy hoping for peace in the world.
Another shot of the huge crowd on 3rd St. in downtown Davenport. The weather was actually pretty nice - well, compared to other St. Patrick's Day parades over the years. It was about 38 degrees with a cool breeze out of the northeast. We've been down there when it's been in the 20's and spitting snow. That's not good parade weather.
And the parade brings out all ages. Here's a little guy sitting on his father's shoulders in front of Mac's enjoying the sights. Little kids go nuts for the candy that's thrown from the floats. Except the candy all falls on the ground and they have to pick it up. Man, I wouldn't eat any of that crap after having it fall on the pavement, even if it had kevlar wrapping on the candy!
After the parade, people head back in to some of the bars downtown. Here's the inside of Mac's Tavern. Actually, it wasn't all that packed in there at this time. Mac's was one of my favorite places to go at one point in time, but it just isn't the same since Bill Collins was the owner.
KilKenny's puts up a huge tent behind their bar in a parking lot. They have bands play in there during the course of the day and evening. But this isn't even the biggest party. Kelly's Irish Pub up on 53rd Ave. has a larger tent - 120' by 60' and they serve upwards of 14,000 to 15,000 people on the day of the parade. I wanted to go up and see our friends Wicked Liz and the Bellyswirls play Saturday evening, but my wife reminded me that the cops would be out and I didn't need to be driving at that point. She's always right.
The St. Patrick's parade is always a great time. It's fun running into people you know at the parade and at the bars before and afterwards. Everyone is drinking, everyone is eating corned beef and cabbage. The levels of methane from human farts creates a hole in the ozone above the Quad Cities beginning Saturday night and stretching into Sunday. But, boy, is it fun up until then.