Sights and sounds from Kansas City St. Patrick's Day parade
It’s generally considered bad form to ask a man what he’s wearing under his kilt.
During Kansas City's St. Patrick's Day parade, it’s also potentially hazardous.
After all, this is one of those holidays where it’s not all that peculiar to spot a gentleman walking down the street at 8:30 in the morning toting four pints of Guinness at a time.
He may be wearing what the uninitiated might call a skirt, but he's just as likely to be sporting a T-shirt that reads, "Pat McCrotch" or "Pinch Me and I'll Punch You."
(When said gentleman was asked if the stouts were all for him, he stated, plainly, “Just a little pre-gaming, mate.” The man looked destined to be made legend in limerick.)
The line for pints, warm drinks and fellowship outside Browne’s Irish Marketplace wound downhill on 33rd Street well before 9 a.m. Inside, the parade's grand marshal David Koechner was having breakfast. The weather was as cold and gray as the homeland, but thankfully not as wet.
Browne’s sat just west of the staging areas for the 46th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, which this year marched its way down Broadway to Westport.
As they waited for the parade’s 11 a.m. start, people passed the time talking college basketball — “How about those UMBC Retrievers?” — and all levels of soccer. Across the street, a young choir sang Hallelujahs and shared “love bombs” — little sheets of paper that read such things as “Believe you deserve it and the universe will serve it.” Moms and dads kept their cold kiddos occupied by posing for portraits in front of the Oscar Mayer wienermobile.
Rather randomly, one man said to Koechner, “Excuse me, Mr. Koechner, could I take a photo with you holding my unicycle?”
Ever the good sport, the Tipton, Mo., native and featured player in the “Anchorman” movies, obliged. Then he hopped in a golf cart with his children and his wife, Overland Park-native Leigh Morgan Koechner, in search of warmer environs before the parade was to begin. The temp stayed in the 30s until well after noon.
Once the parade got going, at times it looked more like a traffic jam in a parking lot. The captive audience, however, became fertile ground for medical marijuana advocates to pluck signatures for petitions for legalization in Missouri. Even with half the parade-goers coming from Kansas, petitioners thought the signature drive went very well.
"A lot of Kansas people support us, that's for sure," said NORMLKC board member Paula Prentice. "I'd say 90 percent of them."
On one street corner, a group of men from Israel United in Christ preached to the masses, with a liturgist reading the gospel alternating with a man interpreting it on the spot.
The cold thinned the crowd by 12:30 p.m. The corner near the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Headquarters was nearly empty before some of the floats, hot rods and horses had even started their march down Broadway, something unseen in warmer years.
This being Kansas City, food sales appeared brisk, with piles of nachos and warmer entrees carrying the day. The overburdened sidewalk traffic actually parted like the Red Sea to make way for one man carrying a pile of fries buried under a massive pile of Parmesan cheese.
Michelle Willard sold big bags of green kettle corn out of a grocery cart for her dad, owner of Jim Dandy's Kettle Corn.
"It started out slow, but sales are actually surprisingly good today," she said.
Accordingly, green was everywhere, except on one man. He rode a Harley and dressed like "Where's Waldo?" Perhaps we can call off the search now. Some of our favorite looks included the orange, white and green beard sported by a man who identified himself as "Boomer." He said Saturday was his birthday. Cheers, lad.
Many people of all races and genders sported Irish sombreros and glittery cowboy hats. Dogs dressed in green bandanas, hats and ties. A favorite T-shirt read "Irishish."
High marks go to the man in green boa leg warmers, green afro wig, green tutu and black roller skates, who averted two wipeouts in a two-block span near Valentine. In his defense, the Big Gulp mug he carried appeared substantial.
And, of course, there were lots and lots of guys young and old in kilts.
Timothy Reid of Parkville wore something of a neo-kilt, a black number with interchangeable side pockets. He said over the years he's heard a couple of good answers to the question of what's worn under the men's traditional Celtic garments.
"The first one is, ‘Me boots’," he said. "Then if you’re in adult company, especially if a woman asks, you say, ‘Good girls don’t ask; bad girls find out for themselves.’ And the other one I’ve heard is, ‘Well, nothing is worn underneath there. Everything is in fine working order.’”