With tomorrow being Saint Patrick's Day, everybody everywhere is preparing for celebrations. Almost any bar you walk into will be an Irish pub for the day, restaurants featuring Irish fare, all wearin' o' the green including the beer. There will be painting green lines down the streets, turning rivers green, and the pride of Ireland will take to the streets with the grandest procession the day has ever seen.
Most of the nation is going out to line a route, whether their own as they make their own Saint Paddy's Pub Shuffle popping from bar to bar or if you're in any type of major city of size, you'll be downtown watching the parade. Most of you will have a wonderful time...except the northeast. We're going to be getting hit with a snow storm...the white and the green. At least the colors compliment each other. Usually, a little snow wouldn't stop the show, but quite a few cities could get up to a foot by the time the parades are supposed to step off. And you know the really big cities have a huge line up planned for well over an hour of marchers passing by. Even the nearby city of Rochester has showings of 100,000 to watch their Saint Patrick's Parade...a couple hundred units in length. In almost a hundred and a half years, they've only had to postpone their parade twice...determination...and they're right in a snow belt off one of the Great Lakes; Ontario. Places like Philadelphia, New York City, Boston...they're all in the path of the highest accumulations. In this neck of the woods, Mother Nature does what she wants. Your plans don't matter to her.
Around these parts, as everywhere around the world, parades are a part of many observances. You name it and people will put on a parade. We have all kinds of festivals parades; Sauerkraut, Potato, Strawberry, Grape, Apple, Jell-O...if you can eat it, we celebrate it. There's Memorial Day parades, parades on the Fourth of July, Veterans Day and Homecoming. But anything in between those parades; and their held year-around 'round here; you never know what the weather and that threat always includes snow.
Six year's ago, all the Halloween parades got about half a foot of heavy, wet snow. The day after Thanksgiving Christmas Kick Off parade was blowing and snowing so bad, I couldn't "surf" standing on top of the radio station's van on it. I threw candy to our fans. We were broadcasting Christmas music over the air and encouraged parade goers to bring their radio and turn us up loud all along the parade route. Not only our van with it's huge speaker system, but quite a few of the floats and marching groups played radios with our music, too. And you knew any other Christmas parade up until the holiday has experienced a nice blast of snow at least a few times over the course of their history.
Not to mention the New Year's Eve parades, fireworks displays and outdoor parties. Here in town, the main four corners of the south side Sackett business district across the "Wonderful Life" bridge always has a green shamrock mysertiously appear hanging from the stop light. And the resturant on the corner, Antonina's, changes their name to Mc Dermott's, which is the last name of the actual owner. It was always an Italian restaurant from the time it started back in the 1920's and he didn't want to change that. It had always been successful that way. Why mess with a good thing? And we have out own version of the Times Sqaure ball drop. McDermott's sponsors it and the ball drop is on top of their building, a much smaller version, but the same general idea as in New York City. The main intersection is shut down and the townsfolk come together to take to the streets, party and watch the ball drop at midnight.
We pretty much know better than to try and hold much outdoors after that for awhile. Though some Martin Luther King, Jr. marches have been held in the snow. As Martin would do, they let no barriers hold them back and he is honored with his parade. Ground Hog's Day, Valentine's Day, Easter nor April Fools' Day don't warrant parades. All not immune from getting hammered with a nice snow storm anyway. Even the Little League Opening-Day/Mother's Day parade has been snowed out...the barbeque cancelled...the opening day games called off. Half a foot of snow on May 10th. Memorial Day, with is always observed here on the original date of May 30th; no matter what day of the week it falls on, being the birthplace of the holiday; has experienced snow, I'm sure, though rarely, if ever at all, enough to cancel our parade that day. We've got a track record of observing that day more consecutive times than any other place since we were the ones who started it.
You just never know around here. If you don't like the weather, hang around 15 minutes; it'll change. Sometimes it's hit-and-run weather; nails you and moves on quick. Sometimes, it sneaks up on you and you're hit before you even knew it was coming. There are times it seems like winter will never end. Our first snow was early October this year and we're still getting it...and could for up to another couple of months. But then it turns spring, and sometimes stays spring until July 4th. Then it turns summer...and it turns to autumn on July 5th...with snow just three months away.
And it's not all sunshine and birdies chirping when it's not snowing. Oh, we get some lovely weather during the snow "off season", too. Once it stops snowing because it finally gets too warm...like over freezing (lows tonight of 10 above zero), it starts raining. April showers bring...more showers in May and June. It, on occassion, gets hot here...with high humidity so unbearable you can't breath outdoors and you sit home in front of the AC. Or the thunderstorms can be hellacious; such lightning and power outages and torrential downpours. Then it starts raining again, and getting colder, and the leaves start turning colors and dying off...and we're back to snow.
You know, I want to move away from the snow and cold. I'm tired of it and my body can't take it any more. I'm looking to leave sometime down the line. I know I'm gonna miss it. It's not something I want all the time, but it's becomes part of the excitement of living here. Unless it's too bad, no matter what Mother Nature can throw at us, we still like to have our fun and just treat her weather offering as another contribution to bringing people together to share a good time. But the one day it will affect me the most will be Christmas. It just won't be the same knowing there will be not a prayer's chance in hell of even seeing one snowflake. I'll have a tear in my eye and will be waxing nostalgic. Not that it was all that big of a deal to me because I celebrated in my own way, but just the thought of what the ideal Christmas was; family, love, presents; all cozy inside a decorated home with the snow falling all around outside.
They're monitoring conditions in Rochester. The forecast is for up to 8" by parade time Saturday morning with another four inches before the storm is over. We've already got a couple inches where I am and it's not even dark yet. We could get a foot or more overnight here. Yah, I'll miss it alright...send me a postcard!