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Monaghan's St. Patrick's Day Parade Romps in the French Quarter (PHOTOS)


by Elaina Patton

Outside Molly’s at the Market, the night was beginning as pre-paraders slowly trickled in and around the bar, anticipating the 6pm roll time of Friday's annual Jim Monaghan St. Patrick's Day Parade. Tourists found each other among the throng, exchanging well-intentioned, and somewhat ill-in-taste, jokes and rounds of shots. Locals, a little more sobered at the beginning of the night, mostly moved in groups of festive neon green.

 

Knowing well what was in store, experienced parade goers were already marking their spots along the route.

 

Two costumed face painters, just beginning their tour of the quarter, bellied up to the bar before the night’s work began.

 

 

At 8 that morning, the parade crew had descended onto Molly’s for their pre-parade activities and then left to prepare for the night’s bead-throwing and merry-making.

 

The Celtic Highlanders were some of the first to arrive on the scene, bringing their mobile bar and a crowd of onlookers who swarmed the float, inquiring about a drink. Several times, the kilt-wearing crew had to turn away an eager would be patron, looking for a draft of Guinness from their surprisingly well equipped pub.

 

The Highlanders are in their third year of parade participation, though they’ve been around much longer. The kilt club was born in the late 1990’s out of another Celtic group of lesser repute.

 

When a few members broke off their old associations over disagreements about decorum, they decided to don kilts and chip in to build a bar that they could take with them anywhere they wanted to parade.

 

One of the founding members, Kendall Daigle explained, “We started off as renegades. But as any group ages, it begins to calm down.” 

 

 

Time doesn’t seem to have extinguished too much of the group’s celebratory spirit, however.

 

The back room of the bar, known as the “shag room” for apparently obvious reasons, was buzzing as members prepared for the Quarter parade. The group has grown to 28 members in recent years, Daigle reported, and what was once a room for the incongruous “when the group was a little more riske,” is now the site of operations.

 

 

Despite the “celtic” uniforms, most of the 28 members didn’t appear or claim to have any actual Scoth-Irish in them. As Daigle somewhat sarcastically explained it, “You just have to be a drunken idiot. A very nice drunken idiot.”

 

Of course, Daigle qualified, “There are rules.” Though even that assurance seems to be somewhat negotiable.

 

“Everyone has to have a tartan,” Daigle quite seriously said. Though tartans appear, for most members, to be more about color choice than cultural heritage.

 

 The marching group is technically all male. But, female members are admitted under the position of “bar wench.” Meaning, they serve drinks aboard the float and generally attract the attention of mesmerized St. Patrick’s Day revelers.

 

Other female members include the flag bearers, who announce the group’s affiliation with short, religious uniform-style skirts and high kicks.

 

 “It’s the whole persona of the thing,” Kendall concluded. “It’s about the music, the attire, the drinking.”

 

By the time the parade was beginning to roll around Molly’s, Bourbon Street was crowded with tourists who were taking part in the St. Patrick’s Day revelry in a different way. In contrast to the purposeful partying of the Highlanders, deeper into the Quarter, most wanderers seemed to have little aim beyond a barbarous day of drinking. 

 

Even along the parade route at one of the stops on Monaghan's trek, the Erin Rose, there seemed to be little knowledge of the approaching festivities. Most bar goers had little idea that there was a parade already gathering only a few blocks away. In time, though, loud music and the glow of green lights would alert even the most bleary-eyed to the parade’s presence.




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Contributors

Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde

Photographers


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.

Editor


Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt


B. E. Mintz


Stephen Babcock

Published Daily