I went to the Port Authority meeting on Thursday night, and enjoyed watching the arguments involving local above-reproach old lady Anita Gorman pontificate on the need for 5000, that's right, five thousand permanent off-street parking spots for the proposed riverfront development. The main opinion rift in the room seemed to be between the white-haired folks and the young people, with the former supporting suburban-style development, and the latter stressing the demand and need for urban development. After that, Jeff and Matt and I went to Davey's for a couple drinks, and then to Harlings for a couple more, along with a serious eyefull of the female clientele.
We rounded off the evening with some Pancho's burritos, and I went to sleep at about 1:30, knowing I had perhaps five or six hours to sleep. I was startled awake by nervousness at about 7am, so I called Ryan, at whose apartment I had left my green sportcoat the previous week, and took an unshowered step outside, for the one-block walk over to his place, to get the coat. I could smell myself immediately. The cigarette smoke had deposited itself horribly into the fibers of my favorite jacket, the previous night.
Anyway, Geoff, who's serving time as a Johnson County resident, had to drive up to downtown and find a parking spot. Once he had, he sought out my house, and we were on our way. We tried to go to Danny's Big Easy for a pre-parade drink, but found that it wasn't open yet, and had recently changed the bar's name to "Daddy's." Surprised by their willingness to throw money away on the drinkingest of mornings of the year, we walked two blocks to Bulldog, where I ate a mudlike plate of biscuits and gravy, drank an Irish Ale, and an amazingly still-in-existence Nutcracker Ale. It was about that time when Andrew and Brody joined us, and we departed, open containers in hand, for Union Station.
We walked into the gathering hoopla for the parade, when we crossed 20th street. Floats were all around, bedecked with leprechauns and pots of gold, and alternating between music by the Pogues and the Dubliners, and Hot 103 Jamz. We arrived at the Sweeney-O'Rourke family float, which apparently was the previous year's parade champion, and decided we needed another drink. Andrew, Brody, and I walked over to Pierpont's, inside the bustling Union Station, and enjoyed a very comfortable drink. I was delighted to see that Pierpont's has Bully Porter on tap.
Geoff angrily called me, saying that the parade was about to start, and that we needed to get back out there. We took a moment to relieve ourselves, and double-timed it back to the float. We found out, when we got there, that it would still be about twenty minutes before we started moving. Clay had joined us by this time, and was bouncing all over the place, trading "your sister is hot," jabs with Geoff.
Finally, the float was able to start rolling, and we walked in front of it, shouting holiday greetings to the assembled masses. Though, the fact that it was frigging cold outside definitely had an effect on the parade's attendance. When I went in 2003, it was over seventy degrees outside, and as such, the parade attracted a good 150,000 more people than this year. Even so, I'd say there were probably about 100,000 people along the parade route.
We were waving to the crowd, shouting greetings to them, and talking amonst ourselves, when I got the idea to start doing drunken cartwheels for the crowd at regular intervals. Thankfully, the parade route was largely abbreviated because of the arena construction inside the loop, so the left side of my body was only slightly throbbing with pain when our float turned off Grand at 15th. We rode on, back to Union Station, where we took the float apart, and enjoyed another beer.
Then, we made what was, in my opinion, the biggest mistake of the day: we went to Westport. I pretty much despise Westport, and if you throw ever-increasing crowds on top of that, I am just plain counting the minutes until it's time to leave. We went first, thankfully, to Dave's Stagecoach, which while is technically in the Westport area, is definitely not part of the scene. With tshirts for sale that read, "Dave's Stagecoach Inn: Your First Stop After Parole," it's is largely devoid of the teenyboppers that clog the streets only a few blocks away.
We then paid $5 to get into Blayney's, where they had raised their drink prices for the holiday. After making and receiving some phone calls, we decided to go over to the Dark Horse and grab a table while we still could. It was early, only 2pm, but the bar was one in, one out, and the tables were all, of course, taken. So, we got some overpriced beers, and picked a spot in the middle of the floor to stand, and started hanging out. About a third of the discussion, all carried out in hoarse shouts, centered around leaving Westport. But, it didn't seem that anyone was actually interested in going anywhere, because the hours went by, and we stayed right there.
Sick of Westport, I left by myself, and got in touch with Josh, who was just getting off work, and would be arriving at the 39th & Main bus stop shortly. I waited there for him for perhaps three minutes before he arrived. We exchanged hellos, ran over to his apartment, extracted Callie, and caught the next bus to downtown. On the way, we decided to see how busy the Crossroads was, and got off at 19th and Main. We got a drink or two at Balanca's, where the holiday was definitely being celebrated, but with no shortage of available seating.
By this time(about 6:30pm), I was starting to lose momentum, and was only able to get two more beers down. We moved on to Grinders, ate some dinner, talked some smack, and I called it a day. I made one last walk, to get home from Grinders, before I collapsed into my desk chair. I wasn't drunk, I was just exhausted. I capped my day watching Peoria's Bradley Braves knock KU out of the NCAA tournament in the first round. I posted a couple of incendiary remarks about the greatness of the Missouri Valley Conference on a local forum, made a last trip to the bathroom, and went to bed, at about 11:30pm. I was asleep in less than a minute.
I awoke ten hours later, still sore from walking all day, and slamming my body against the ground with drunken cartwheels. My voice is starting to return, and the realization that it's Saturday is kind of shocking. All in all, it was an excellent St. Patrick's Day.