Top of the Mornin' to you!
'Tis a fine day to bludgeon yinz all with the details of my day in the murky sun, St. Patrick's Day. I had the great opportunity to be
invited to walk in this year's City of Pittsburgh St. Patty's Day Parade! 'Tis a great day for the Irish! To be a part of the City's
glitterati and march with the green to infamy and debauchery! I wouldn't miss it for a leprechaun's head!
The City of Pittsburgh is known for its large contingent of Irish pilgrims. They have an Irish Mayor, an Irish Sheriff and even an
Irish Bar...or a thousand. The St. Patty's Day Parade in Pittsburgh is the second largest in the country. 30,000 people, just in the
parade! Usually, a quarter million come to join in the festivity. A massive rush of humanity follows it into the city's heart, Market
Square. Take Mardi Gras, add Carnivale and add a dash green beer and you have an inkling of the madness involved.
This was my second pilgrimage to the Steel City for the party. Last year's memory impelled me to join again in the revelry. The
remembrance of standing in the cold for three hours and jumping up and down to stay warm, before the parade even started,
wasn't enough to keep my tanned, Phoenician, thin-blooded body away. Never mind that it took thirty minutes to just get out of a
bar in Market Square or that I stepped into enough horse dookie to fertilize Old MacDonald's farm. I had a greater calling, to party
with my fellow Irish Pittsburghers while trying not to pee my pants...more on that later.
The day started at 6:19 AM. Forget that I got home at 2 AM from doing St. Patty's Day warm-up exercises. Uncle Dick wanted a
good parking spot and damned if we didn't get one! Let me go back a little and tell you about the world famous Uncle Dick Rush.
Uncle Dick has in his past lives been a sheriff, a carpenter, a 3 Rivers Stadium crew guy, a warehouser, a constable, a father, a
boat captain, a Mason, an Arnold (from Happy Days), a hot rodder, a Richard, husband, prognosticator, a Shriner, a Buddha and
all-round good egg. He has had a lot of experience and he was one never to let you forget that. He reminded me of this the day
before as he was wearing his constable hat to serve an arrest notice to some drunken derelict in the ghettoes of Pittsburgh. He
comes and visits me and I take him to the splendor of the Grand Canyon by train, no less. A night out with Uncle Dick involves
going to some scofflaw's hovel and slapping an orange sticker on his forehead. So as we are trying to track down this,
um...gentleman who started a bar fight in Dormont and lives in the slums of McKee's Rocks, he says to me, "Hey, you want to be
in the parade?" As I'm ducking for cover and trying to find a spare 9mm, I say, "It will be an honor" Unfortunately, the guy has
moved and no one has seen him around in weeks.So no warrant serving today. I am sad to say that gunplay won't be part of this
It seems that Uncle Dick has now become a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians #9. The man cannot find enough things
to do.The history of the Order dates back some three hundred years. Hibernia was what Ireland was called by the Roman
Legions who were scared off the island by the naked Celtic warriors. This is the magnanimous group who extended the
invitation for me to walk in the parade. Although we wouldn't be walking through the parade naked, I accepted.
So Uncle Dick is there to pick me up at 7:00 AM and we go off to breakfast and to meet his fellow Hibernians. We have breakfast
with Jeff and Jack at a little diner somewhere off a pot-holed road in the heart of Wilmerding...or somewhere else. It is 37Â° and
raining. What a great day for a parade!
We arrive in our deluxe parking spot at 8:00 AM for the 10:00 AM parade. We have no float to make, no balloons to blow up and
no way of staying warm.So we sit in the car and tell Irish jokes while listening to "Mack the Knife." After about an hour, Uncle Dick
decides it is time to play politician. So we head out to meet the little people. There's the usual array of parade characters;
jugglers, school bands, flag wavers and cheerleaders.Politicians, cronies, horse's asses and the like are interspersed among
the red hairs and the fire trucks. We find out that our group is going to be the 91st group in the parade.My niece, Kelly, who is in
color guard, is in group 191! We walk amongst the throngs so Uncle Dick can point out the different politician's, cronies and
horse's asses and tell us what "jagoffs" they are.It would be great fun but I'm freezing my shamrocks off. And I don't mean my
SHAM-rocks! Meanwhile, I'm taking photos like a drunken Mardi Gras reveler with a handful of beads. He's introducing me
around as the idiot nephew from Arizona who wanted to see the cold. My camera eventually freezes and I end up triple exposing
the photos that surely would have made the cover of the National Geographic.
I finally meet the Grand Pooh-Bah of the Water Buff...I mean, the head Celt of the Red Hair Club for Men, no, really, I think his title
was the Supreme Holder of the Royal Scepter. Anyway, he was an affable fellow, old as Stonehenge, but nice as the day is long.
Every one takes Imodium AD so they won't have to poop while parading. It is now 10:00 and the bagpipes have started.
We form a haphazard line of five across and wait, and wait. The cheerleaders from nubile high school start moving. We are
almost ready to march! The bagpipe unit from Carnegie-Mellon U is right in front of us! This is too cool! I have a pocketful of St.
Patty's and U.S flag stickers to hand out thanks to my Dad who gives me everything. He doesn't know I'm going to give them to
complete strangers so I can feel like the big man in town.
Huzzah!; Here we go! We make our first turn to the main street and it's an amazing scene. Multitudes! We are talking the masses
of humanity have come to brave the cold in the hopes of seeing a baton twirler drop her baton, a horse poop in the street or a
politician get hit by a fire truck. But most likely they'll only get to see me trip and fall on my face. People are six or seven deep at
some points. I'm doing my debutante wave and looking for pretty, young moms to give my stickers to. The bag pipers are playing
"Danny Boy!" I'm overcome by emotion, even if it is the worst parade marching song of all time. Where's J.P. Sousa when you
Here I am, walking down the streets of my youth, being cheered by total strangers. My life has hit its pinnacle. I could die at this
moment and I would thank Mr. Reaper for his timing. But I would probably end up rotting on the block until the ground could thaw
in June. We turn near Smithfield Street and throngs continue. We travel under the Kaufmann Clock, past the Warner Theatre and
onwards to PPG Plaza. Thousands and thousands of people waving and laughing or...were they pointing and laughing?!
Anyway, I finally see someone I know and it is my oldest and bestest buddy, Buggs. He's there with his kids and wife. I run over
and give them the last of my stickers. They start saying that Santa gives them candy and that I only gave...oh, never mind! I run to
get back in formation and someone has taken my spot! I move to the rear, he steps in horse dookie and all is right again in my
world. Hey, I see some cousins waving! It's Uncle Dick's kids. They point and laugh. Can't even get a break from family. Well we
are nearing the end and I haven't fallen once, haven't been hit by a baton and circulation of blood has actually returned. We walk
past the Parade Master's Booth where they announce us and then it is a mad dash to a bathroom.
This has now become the goal of the day, peeing. The City of Pittsburgh, in all of its genius, has setup three, yes three, Port
O'Johns. A quarter-million people and three toilets! All the bars are packed to the McGillicuddys and there is no way to even get
in. They are selling beer on the street to worsen the problem. Uncle Dick and I buy a couple of beers and try to find a spot to
stand. If you don't mind rubbing into 32 strangers per minute you have a spot. We know eventuality will take over for our bladders
and we begin the impossible task of trying to get into a bar's bathroom. We push, we shove, we bribe. I tell Uncle Dick to use his
badge...or his gun. He would but he is having too much fun being mashed by the women's line. We are jammed into a staircase
four feet wide. Women on one side, men on the other and the lucky fortunates who have finished trying to squeeze back up the
steps. The manners of the participants are a testament to the people of Pittsburgh. Everyone is as cordial as one can be even
though there is no room for swollen body parts. We manage to get to the ground floor and find out what the hold up is the men's
room. The hold up is women! They are out of control! They have not only packed their own bathroom but have infiltrated the
men's stalls. I take a photo of six women under the Men's Room sign. I tell them I work for the city newspaper. Uncle Dick feigns
to be senile and flashes everyone in the room. I finally make it to the urinal and I have seven women standing behind me waiting
to get in the only stall. I get stage fright. As I wait for Willy to start Wonkaing I turn my head fast enough to catch these chicks
actually trying to sneak a peek! Aha! "I hope that it is a panoramic camera!" Ha, Ha! They blush as I flush Rush.
We make it out again to the fresh air and there is none. The whole place is a mosh pit. I know my brothers are here,
somewhere. I call Bobby on my phone. "I'm right here," he says. I'm searching and searching. He says, "Look left. No, the other
left." Now he's got me totally confused and I'm dizzy. By the time I find him ten feet away, my phone has died. He's there with
brother Greg and their entourage of happy hooligans. The fun has officially started. Except they all have to pee. So while the
entourage makes off to find a place to relieve themselves (Ha! Good luck!), Bob and Greg get this stupid look on their face. Here,
these veterans of Mardi Gras and after years of experience at this thing have had the genius to buy condom catheters! They are
standing there peeing into a bag strapped to their legs! I curse them for their ingenuity! I already have to go again! It must be the
cold weather...or the four liters of beer I just drank. I get in the bathroom line again at a different place. The women's room is
closed in this place so the line should go much quicker. I finally get to the door and a woman appears and asks if she can go in
front of me. All the men behind me give me a nasty look. I say, "Well, if you want to go you'll have to have to go in with us.; You
use the stall while we use the urinals." She is ecstatic. I'm her knight in shining armor? She is so happy until she finds that the
only place to go is in a box and there is no door! She tells me she would go in a tin cup at this point and drops her drawers like
she is at home. So here I am peeing in a urinal while this girl is beside me peeing in a box! Stage fright! She starts talking to me
like I'm her brother. "Where are you from? Pee here often?" I'm doing my best trying not to splash her. I say, I'm from Arizona and
I will never pee here again! We leave and to this day, I cannot remember her face.
Daniel I. Rush