Saturday, March 15, 2008

St. Patrick's Day Parade & Bar Hop

St. Patrick’s Day Means Parades and Parties in Downtown CDA

I’ve always found it to be rather vexatious when folks don’t really go for the green on St. Patrick’s Day. They pad their way blearily through the closet that morning and pull out clothing in unsightly shades of sea foam, olive or chartreuse, and probably think “eh, close enough”. Or they dress head-to-toe in every color of the rainbow other than green, and then don some kind of miniscule accessory in Ireland’s trademark color, like a fuzzy shamrock pin purchased last year during a Hallmark clearance sale, or even worse they say “My underwear is green today”. This tidbit of information not only paints uncomfortable mind pictures, it will likely be seen as “too much” for all but one’s most intimate companions or perhaps emergency care technicians. They’ll wear just enough of a hint of pseudo-green to avoid the sharp pinching fingers of traditionalists.

Certainly, those who really take St. Paddy’s Day to heart know that only bold, bright true green will do the trick, and it should be worn loudly and proudly. However, when getting the kids dressed, be careful not to go overboard with the idea. In Ireland, the color was long considered to be unlucky; the favorite color of the Fairy Shoemakers who liked nothing better than to snatch away children wearing too much green. It’s better to be safe than sorry, but realistically, unless you reside near certain metropolitan boutique districts, Fairy Shoemakers are a very minor concern in modern times. If you decide to bring the family out to downtown Coeur d’Alene today at 4 o’clock for the annual St.Patrick’s Day Parade, it might be prudent to bring an Irish Fairy Swatter just in case.

If such an item could actually be purchased, All Things Irish on Sherman Avenue would likely be a great place to begin searching for it. If you want tacky paper-and-foil shamrocks, you’d better stick to the dollar store. All Things Irish owner Ilene Moss carries high quality merchandise straight from the land of Eire, including wool capes, Catholic trinkets, Celtic rugs, jewelry, fine art and ceramics. She will also rent you a kilt, but what you wear underneath is fully your decision. The shop serves as a kind of spiritual home base for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade which begins up the street at 11th Street and ends a mile down Sherman Avenue near the Museum of North Idaho.

This year marks the third run of the parade, and although it’s a fairly new tradition in town, it’s already become a local favorite, giving folks a chance to experience the thrill of dusting off the folding lawn chairs and enjoying early springtime in the shadow of a high-rise condo. A real highlight each year is the twirling drumsticks and bagpipes of Sandpoint’s St. Joseph’s School Band, which are either heart-stirring or stomach churning, depending on your tolerance level for the droning wind instruments. Regardless, the green, blue, and black tartan-clad marching band always leaves the crowd misty-eyed, causing even those natives of Swaziland or Guam in attendance to long for the mothering shores of Ireland and cheer wildly. Other notable entries from previous years have included various local radio personalities, colorful charity floats, scads of pug dogs and leprechauns chasing police cars, and best of all, giant dancing bottles of Guinness beer.

Ah, Guinness. For many, it’s the embodiment of what makes St. Patrick’s Day worth celebrating. Its distinctive flavor comes from the roasted barley which remains unfermented, resulting in a rich flavor I like to describe as “chocolatey”. The Iron Horse is a fantastic place to order your first cold, heady Guinness of the evening and if you get there in time, you can even watch the parade go by from the comfort of the lounge. Crowds tend to get wild early at the Horse, and the staff has plans to make the place as festive as possible on parade day, with traditional Irish music setting the ambience, and heaps of Corned Beef and Cabbage to help soak up the dark beer. Since it’s a Saturday, they’ll be serving their usual two-for-one drinks. Stick around into the evening and dance to the party sounds of cover band Ultraglide. If you still haven’t had your fill of Irish shenanigans tonight, you can relive the whole affair this Monday the 17th, when they do the whole thing over again with a DJ in lieu of live music.

Naturally, O’Shay’s Irish Pub on the east end of town on Lake Coeur d’Alene Drive is really getting into things, with a celebration that kicks off today with a big hearty “O’Breakfast” and the season opening of the beer garden and amphitheater. Fresh from dazzling parade goers, the St. Joseph’s Band will perform, followed by local favorites the Burlap Highrise, who I’d guess will be throwing in some old-country Irish elements in with their rustic Americana-tinged rock music. The O’Shays menu is like St.Paddy’s Day every day, so it’s no stretch at all to expect the Guinness Stew, Corned Beef & Cabbage, and Fish & Chips to be nearly as good as a trip to a Dublin eatery. The music, food, and good times continue at O’Shays through Monday.

It doesn’t really matter to the naughty Leprechaun if he has to work bright and early the next morning, he’s going to put on his best green floppy hat and celebrate St Paddy’s the way it was meant to be celebrated: bar-hopping. Along with the aforementioned Iron Horse and O’Shay’s, the Fort Ground Grill will be treating revelers all day long Monday to plenty of stout Irish ale, corned beef, and an evening bagpipe performance. “The Fort Ground has always been a St Patrick’s Day tradition in Coeur d’Alene,” says owner Steve Widmyer, “Stop by for a green beer!”

Also on the party list is Capone’s Pub on 4th street in midtown, where according to featured entertainers the Million $ Hillbilly Band, it’ll be “foot stompin’, Irish drinkin’, and more fun than the British parliament deems legal.” Music starts at 7 p.m. The Shore Lounge in the lobby level of the Resort is also throwing a St.Patrick’s Night bash, with drink specials, a DJ spinning Irish tunes (U2 dance mixes perhaps?), and plenty of tourist commingling.

After bar hopping, the tispy Leprechaun is most likely to end up settling in for the night at Mik-n-Mac’s Lounge on 4th where DJ Jason will be completely ignoring Ireland and will instead get everyone dancing to current and retro hip-hop and club hits. The fair maidens behind the bar have promised to keep the crowd juiced up on martinis, green beers and insane drink specials like the Irish Trash Can, a wicked concoction of Rum, Gin, Vodka, Triple Sec, Peach Schnapps, and Blue Curaco, with a full can of Red Bull floating atop. Whoa. More than one of those bad boys and the naughty Leprechaun will wake up the next morning looking as green as his best floppy hat.


Anonymous said...

My name is John Watson and I have been playing Huckelberries, Borders Book Stores, Etc.. here in Spokane. I would like to migrate to Idaho with my show. I am a finger stylist and play classicle guitars.
My Email is
Response has been Scary Amazing!! No Kidding! I do alot of originals. 95% of my sets.
Thank You for any consideration.
John Watson
(509) 922-6588 Spo. Valley.

Melody Draves, knitter said...

The best and most complete Irish music presentation this year alone is Kelly's Pub in Midtown, and I am completely gobsmacked there is not even a HINT here. Beginning in April, all through last weekend and running the days have been traditional and modern Celtic music, songs and sing alongs. And where in North Idaho do you get traditional Irish grub like Colcannon??? (Americans usually stop at Corned Beef and Cabbage. Mmph. Disappointing.)
A good feel for the pulse of the this town is rarely experienced on the internet, but easier to survey on foot. This columnist may need an invitation to tonight's lineup to GET OUT and see Deep Roots and Arvid Lundin play some wicked good music.