This past Saturday was our St Patrick’s parade event…thing. Streets had already been starting to be “shut down” since the night before, our local bus system was on a set delay for the entire day, and a few events were planned. The 5k and 10k races, the parade, and the “two” festivals (regular festival where kids are allowed until 5 and the regular festival where booze is involved and going on until 8). We had Jamie’s mom drop us off at the main branch of Member One, because it was the easiest spot for her to be able to turn around and not get lost.
While it’s not that hard to get lost in Roanoke, for some people it is. It’s nothing but circles within circles overlapping a circle/gridlock motif with hidden one-way streets and dead ends.
We walked from the bank branch to Angels of Asissi’s building (with a side-stop of that weird walkway bridge thing where on one end is a life-sized statue of MLK, Jr) and waited a bit for them to officially open for volunteers and their new Walk-In program, which a couple were doing with their new dog (Doogie Howser. I should’ve gotten a photo of him, he was adorable!). We headed in and were surprised to find we were the first ones to show up so we hung out, I played with Buttercup-the-puppy while Jamie loved on cats. We hung out while the dogs who were going were being harnassed up and people showed up.
Eventually most of the people showed up, and most of us walked to the starting area of the parade. People were starting to slowly trickle around to set up on the parade route, chairs were just sitting empty (because people are dicks) and it got to the point where we were wondering if we had gone the wrong way. But, the starting-area was a little farther than I thought it was, and we were able to eventually find the Angels truck as well as the dogs.
It was madness. People were just everywhere, floats and trucks were parked on either side of the street and in any parking area they could find. People were walking their dogs and not paying attention (because some of the Angels dogs, while really well behaved, do not appreciate having dogs run up to their faces). The guy who was walking Jase (big dog, super sweet), ended up having to sit on the ground and cling to Jase away from everyone because people weren’t paying attention and being ignorant dog owners.
At one point, one woman was walking this dog who was covered in stickers (and on a flexi lead, christ) and not paying any attention whatsoever. She let the dog get into one of our adoptee dogs’ face, and he turned and barked while the woman who has been working with him and walking him started yelling “No!” and “Hey!”, this dumb bitch just kept standing there so her little dog could be annoying. If I could talk, I would’ve said something, but finally the dumbass walked away and the woman who was trying to get the adoptee dog relaxed started saying really loudly “Are you kidding me?! Watch your dog, stupid!” Jamie and I agreed with her that someone should kick the woman to get her to pay attention.
After what seemed like an eternity, we were told to line up and wait. When we get started, the Shriners decided they were going to start up their firetrucks and set off the sound. Gee, thanks guys. They did it around dogs and, of course, some of them jumped. Hell, some of the people jumped. It was a dick move on their part.
During the parade, the kids who had showed up after we had gotten to the “hold area” were tossing candy around and handing out pamphlets. People were cheering Angels on, which is really great and I am very glad that they show support for a local no-kill shelter. People were taking photos, one woman got in Jamie’s face and asked him a question while recording on her phone. The Salem Red Sox people were running around like insects and not paying any attention to where they were going. They ran into us, we had to dodge around them, they almost stepped on a few kids, and the people who had the toddler and his radio-flyer wagon kept stopping so they’d wind up with us instead of around their float.
There was a ton of people, there were announcers on a dais (it was weird), and when we were nearing the end of the parade route, people were walking with everyone in the parade so they could go to other areas in Downtown. People were cutting through or pushing up against the marchers and it was kind of maddening. One or two people darting through or saying sorry/excuse me is one thing, but it was gobs of people.
At one point, I had told Jamie that people go all-out and more crazy with costumes/whatnot than they do with Halloween. The St. Patrick’s parade is Roanoke’s own little halloween get-together.
And then we stopped. There was no police officer or sign to state this was the end of the parade route. The Red Sox truck just stopped and the driver cut the engine. Our being in the parade is over and we walk up the street to our right, where there are 5 cars trying to get out of a parkinglot (because apparently they think they’re going somewhere!) There are still groups behind us and we walk up and realize…the next part of the parade is going on.
This is a long fucking parade.
I have no idea where Furever Friends (or is it forever home? It’s something like that) were in the parade, no idea where Star City Greyhounds were placed (so we completely missed seeing Rob and Lee walking Goose, Fiddler, and Dizzy D), nor do I have any idea where the RVSPCA guys are. And I have absolutely no idea if there were any other shelters in the parade.
We turn around, I get Jamie to let some of the dog walkers know that there is no way we can get through a little farther up (because one of the dogs was in a stroller and the walker was having trouble with it), so we all cut through a carpark and Jamie and I manage to get across the street before one of the groups comes through. Jamie ends up having to pull me through the throng of people because it was so crowded, if he let go that was it.
We managed to get away, and walked back to Angels to drop off our signs (as well as the hat Jamie had and the clover headband I grabbed) and sat down for a few minutes. Then we headed back down because we were going to Make a Day out of it.
It was a terrible idea.
The parade was still going on, there was literally a wall of people around (and goats! there were two goats just watching the parade. For Roanoke, this isn’t weird. At any event, like parade or whatever, you will probably find a goat or two). We get to the “beer tent” area (a giant roped off block surrounding Corned Beef & Co), we hand over our IDs, get braceleted, and turn to find: there are 4 options of liquor (fireball whiskey, jager, irish sour something, and something) and 6 options of beer (heiniken, budweiser, corona, milwaulke, and two other things), all $6 and all none I will touch. Ok, if you put Fireball whiskey into some coke, I’ll drink that (but on my terms because I’m not a big fan of Fireball).
There are people everywhere, there are fucking rude ass people who are mostly drinking everywhere, and we just tried to get the hell out of there. Managed to get our of the “beer tent” area and agreed to attempt to look for somewhere to eat, but every. single. place. was packed. There were places where lines were out the door, one or two places had signs up saying how long the wait was and I was just like “fuck that, not worth it.”
We found the other area of “festivities” that was a giant viking bounce-house (if it wasn’t surrounded by people and I was in a better mood, I would’ve dragged Jamie with me and whined until I got my way because, dude, bounce house!) and the “beer tent” there was a little tent with a sign that said: “Beer ticket, $5 each.”
We agreed to get the hell out of there as more people thronged through. I was at the point where I would punch someone for just being there because it was too many people and we left downtown. We started walking away and Jamie called his mom to ask if she could pick us up when we got to a better area for her and after a while, we got picked up and dropped off at the house.
We walked somewhere between 5 and 7 miles (guestimating) and agreed to go somewhere where it would be a lot less crowded because people would be at the parade/festival. We ended up at the Valley View Buffalo Wild Wings, which in a way was a bad idea because it’s loud as hell in there. It was really busy, we weirded out the poor waitress (she did awesome service! She was constantly on the go trying to make sure all of her tables were doing well, having what they needed, etc) because Jamie was my translator. I learned that I should always ask for a “small” if I get beer from them again (Guiness! Woo! and then I saw they carry Boston Lager. Damn. I’ll get that next time). We picked different things this time, Jamie got a sick-headache (the no-food, loud-atmosphere, and walking through the parade as well as aggrevation at stupid people at the parade kind of hit right after he got his drink). But we had a nice time
I found out later that the WWII veterans, who are always in the parade, boycotted it this year. This year, the organizers told them that they’d have to pay the $10 march fee just like everyone else and, frankly, that’s fucked up. I don’t care if you charge group A or group B a $10 march-fee because, technically, it is a type of business, but these are WWII veterans. You don’t charge them, you shouldn’t charge them, and you should ask them to march because they fought for your dumb ass. They had friends who died during that, and hell, chances are they probably got shoved into another confrontation after that war.
Charge the JROTC and the ROTC guys. They’re kids, they don’t know the horrors of war or of looking in the face of “the enemy” and killing them (hell, I don’t either). But, you don’t charge a group of veterans. I don’t care if they just came back from the Middle East (or the base in Germany or Japan), you thank them for their service, you shake their hand, and you don’t deny them being able to march in a freaken parade by being a douchecanoe and demanding money.
Sure, $10 is $10, but it’s the principle. But, the parade organizers, in my opinion, basically told veterans that they have no respect for them nor their services. And that is fucked up.
(I also found out some cool stuff about other parades that were not ours. Sam Adams (Woo!!) pulled out of the Boston parade as well as the mayor over the parade organizers refusal to let open LGBTQ people march. And, the mayor, chamber-of-whatever people, as well as Heiniken and Guiness (Woo! Guiness!) pulled out of the NYC parade for basically the same thing because apparently parade organizers were idiots this year. And it’s cool. No one was forced to change anything, people were being polite about it and explaining their views. This is how change happens)