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I love a good excuse to get dressed up, celebrate, and take things a little too far. Luckily, most of my country-men and women feel similarly- we Americans love to put our holidays on steroids. I’m pretty sure we are winning at over-the-top Christmases, and I would challenge anyone to find a better Halloween celebration than the ones that go on in the good old USA. But even among the madness, there is one celebration that stands out in our fervent obsession with it: St. Patrick’s Day. Ah yes, the hallowed holiday where we celebrate  St. Patrick and our vague or completely fabricated Irish heritage in the most authentic way possible- by wearing inappropriately revealing teal tops and swilling shamrock-hued beer.

In cities across the country major parades and pub-crawls are held and in Chicago they go as far as to dye the river green! Yet there is nowhere on Earth I would rather celebrate than my hometown of Albany, New York. And I’m not alone in thinking our version is, um, noteworthy- we even got a

If you clicked through and read that side-splittingly hilarious article you now know that Albany’s 2011 St. Patrick’s revelers got a little bit out of hand. And by a little bit I mean they threw dishwashers off of balconies, shattered windows, and turned cars upside down, resulting in both misdemeanor and felony riot charges.

This year, officials were determined not to have a repeat. They moved the parade route so it didn’t run through a bar district and even went as far as to change spring break on the academic calendar at SUNY Albany which, as Gothamist stated, “will hopefully result in the troublemakers going home to trash their own communities.” In other cities where things have gotten out of control, like Hoboken, NJ, parades have been cancelled entirely, so I guess Albany was lucky.

For many people, St. Patrick’s day starts not at the parade but at 9am “kegs and eggs,” a festive and beer-drenched breakfast tradition at the local pubs. While I am not quite dedicated enough to partake in that part of the festivities, I salute those who do. They are usually the ones dancing on the bar to Rhianna by noon. I made it out just in time to catch the parade at 1pm.

I love parades, I really do- the self-conscious high school bands, the over-enthusiastic dance squads, the rowdy crowds and the hometown pride. Normally I watch from the window or balcony of a bar and so I’ve never tried to photograph one before, but while it was a challenge I was determined to share the quirky energy with you!

After the parade broke up so did any shred of composure the crowd had left. We took advantage of the chaos to break off to a side street and have a little photoshoot of our festive green outfits and my freshly broken shamrock riding crop. Not pictured: the 2009 leprechaun Halloween costume from which that crop came.

As I said, things were getting a little rowdier as the afternoon kicked the celebrations into full swing. I will post the following two photos with no comment other than to say that some Albany residents clearly show more restraint than others.

And they were ready for us. Bars prepared by swathing any non-wipable surfaces in thick plastic, while cab drivers took a more forward approach.

My friends and I went straight for the epicenter of Celtic-themed nightlife: McGeary’s Irish Pub.

There, Kristin and Anthony took part in the most important part of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday- drinking green beer. I’m more of a spirits girl myself so I skipped out on this, though I do have plans for next year that involved green dye and a bottle of champagne.

Along with the night before Thanksgiving, St. Pat’s is the day when you will inevitably run into every person you ever knew or went to school with in Albany. And that’s just the way I like it.

We all reached our day-drinking breaking point at around the same time- that breaking point where you A) realize it’s still light outside and you are surrounded by completely drunk people or B) realize it’s still light outside and you are completely drunk. Then it was time to head to Bomber’s and do St. Patrick’s day New York style, and by that I mean celebrating an Irish holiday in a Mexican restaurant.

After filling up on burritos were ordered some decidedly un-green margaritas.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, until I remembered that tequila makes me do this:

Shockingly the night lasted until 2 or 3am, which is a pretty good effort considering we had left the house twelve hours prior, and many of our cohorts had been out for hours before that. Another St. Patrick’s day survived. And when we woke up in the morning we turned on the news to find that Albany had remained riot free. The luck o’ the Irish!*

Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Where and how?

* Actually I don’t know if that phrase even applies here, but I’ve had in running through my head this whole post. Try saying it in an Irish accent. That’s better.

  • I have to admit, I’m not a “congregate in large groups for fun” kind of gal, so much mass parties like this don’t appeal. But I get that other people dig them and I have no problem with that… but I really don’t get why people “celebrate” things by trashing their own cities! That just seems completely insane to me. I am glad that your hometown managed to have just as much fun this year, without the lawless destruction!

    (Also, I cannot drink tequila either… but that’s because it makes me become weepy, drunk Steph.)

    • Meihoukai
      May 24 2012

      Yeah, I really don’t get the trashing either! The thing is that it ruins the fun for everyone… for example here in Albany the cops were always super lenient on open container laws for St. Patrick’s day, making it easy to bar hop and drink while watching the parade. Everyone really appreciated it and it was fun to have a day where everyone got along. Of course they can no longer turn a blind eye thanks to the events of 2011.

      I would probably feel differently if I lived here full time but I LOVE things like this because I get a chance to bump into people I wouldn’t see otherwise!

  • Amanda
    May 23 2012

    What a great post! You captured a fun and silly holiday so well. I’ve definitely had ridiculous St. Patty’s Days like this before and I know I will miss 4th of July this year when I’m in Asia!

    • Meihoukai
      May 24 2012

      Ugh, I have missed the 4th of July three years running, it will be four this year! Of course lucky me that I’ve been traveling so much, but it is a bummer to miss such a fun holiday. The first year I was in Cambodia and ate hamburgers in celebration, the next year I was living in the Cayman Islands and made a flag cake, this past year I was in Spain and sang the star spangled banner…. this year I will be in the UK, maybe I’ll set off some fireworks 🙂

  • John
    May 23 2012

    I am IMPRESSED with the pictures. When I go to something like this, the last thing I’m thinking about is my camera and I always regret it later (case in point: not enough Kentucky Derby photos).

    • Meihoukai
      May 24 2012

      Thanks John! Normally I am the exact same but I think because I was home for such a short time I was still in “TRAVELER MODE” and you would never leave the camera if this was in another country, right? And now I’m so glad to have some photos I’ve got to for years and loved so much.

  • Andrea Smith
    May 26 2012

    Looks like everyone is rooting for the Boston Celtics on St. Patrick’s day. Great photos and seems like you had a really wonderful time out there!