While thousands of Buffalonians prepare to get underway with festivities related to the Downtown St. Patrick’s Day parade, thousands of others are spending the day recovering from Saturday’s Old First Ward/The Valley parade.
This year, I chose to attend Saturday’s 26th annual parade, which I can safely say was one of the biggest to date. Just like the downtown parade, the “South Buffalo” parade has two types of attendees – those who stand outside watching the marchers and the “floats” go by, and those who head for the nearest tavern along to parade route to day-drink.
Yesterday, my group watched half of the parade at the corner of South Park and Hamburg Street, wearing backpacks filled with beer – it’s the one day that no one will bother you for having an open container. Incredibly, it’s a bigger drinking event than its larger downtown counterpart. You can tell that you’re at the “Old Neighborhood St. Patrick’s Day Parade” by a number of identifying characteristics, including:
- Most of the parade “floats” have port-a-potties onboard
- Instead of strollers being pushed around, people drag their coolers on wheels
- Instead of throwing around footballs, people toss around rugby balls
Due to the weather being a bit chilly (someone’s hands got cold) we spent the latter part of the parade looking for a bar to get into, which turned out to be practically impossible. Adolf’s was wall-to-wall, and so was McCarthy’s. We figured that our best bet was The Barrel Factory, but there was a line of people extending all the way down Republic Street.
To me, that alone signaled that this “neighborhood parade” was getting bigger. This was the first year that Republic Street was closed to cars, which I felt was a smart idea. If the weather had been just a little warmer, it would have turned into a huge street party, similar to what was happening on Hamburg Street, and various other side streets, though none of those were closed to car traffic.
Since we weren’t going to spend the rest of the afternoon waiting in line to get into The Barrel Factory, we decided to head over to the corner of Ohio and Chicago Streets. We heard a rumor that the new Resurgence Brewery might be open for the day, even though it was not officially open to the public yet. But when we arrived, we found that they had set up a large tent outside, where they were selling their craft beers including a green beer.
We ran into brewery owner Jeff Ware, who told us that they had tried to get the place open for the day, but they just couldn’t manage to make it work. So they figured that it was important to have a presence out front, which is what they ended up doing. I can tell you that next year, with the brewery open, the Old Neighborhood St. Patrick’s Day Parade is going to be even that much more sensational.
It’s probably a good thing that Resurgence wasn’t open yet, because we decided to call for an Uber, and within minutes we were far away from caught up in more daytime drinking debauchery.
One of the things that I love most about Old Neighborhood Parade day is that it takes place on Saturday, which means that Sunday is recovery day. While I’m still a big fan of Sunday’s Downtown Parade, there are few people that can attend both parades, and live to tell the tale.