Sunday, March 12, 2006

I forget how you pronounce slainte

I'm not particularly Irish. And although I lived on the South Side of Chicago for ten years, real South Siders generally reject any claim I make to being one myself, mostly because my old neighborhood of Hyde Park exists in a different universe from the rest of the South Side. (Indeed, Hyde Park exists in a different universe from the rest of the universe.)

Nevertheless, I love the South Side Irish Parade, which took place today. It began almost 30 years ago as a neighborhood alternative to the Windy City's downtown Irish parade, which was thought to have gotten too extravagant. Now the South Side parade is every bit as extravagant as the original, and politicians jockeying for attention make it a point to march in both. In 1996 I watched as GOP presidential contender Pat Buchanan marched near the head of the South Side parade, then ran to the back, put on a satin union windbreaker, and marched a second time.

The South Side Irish are well represented at the University of Chicago, my alma mater, and as a result I'm lucky to count members of that community among my friends. That is how I learned that one identifies one's provenance not by neighborhood, but by parish ("St. Rita's!"). That is also how I became a regular at the South Side Irish Parade. I grew to love the yearly ritual of corned beef and Bushmills, and "Erin Go Braless" stickers. Good times.

Here's a picture of me partying at the South Side Irish Parade.

No comments: