Was a time when Patrick was the forgotten saint in Kansas City.
Oh, to be sure, many glasses were hoisted in his honor at parties and pubs across town this time of year in those long-forgotten days. Green was the beer, and blue were the mornings after.
But there was no civic jubilation, and alas, there were few parades before the tradition was revived in the 1970s.
Which must seem like blarney in an age when, if you miss one St. Paddy’s celebration around Kansas City, there’s sure to be another opportunity across town or on another day.
On Saturday, there were no fewer than five parades in the metro area — in North Kansas City, Lee’s Summit, Excelsior Springs, Belton and Kansas City’s Brookside neighborhood. Who knows, there could have been more.
At least two other processions dedicated to the Apostle of Ireland are scheduled between now and the day itself.
It began this year, as it always does, north of the river, at the Snake Saturday Parade through North Kansas City.
Northland real estate mogul Charley Garney was the grand marshal. “Wee the People” was the political-year theme, although refreshingly no politicians were allowed to march or ride along the parade route.
An estimated 100,000 folks were expected to attend. Whatever the number actually there, they were a well-behaved lot, which is the reason Stephanie Sessions said she prefers that parade above others.
There’s a family atmosphere, she said, no loutish drunks to spoil the fun.
“I love this one way better,” she said.
There was a lot to love, between the marching bands, countless floats and dogs dressed up like the flying monkeys from “The Wizard of Oz.”
“Top of the morning,” a man in clerical garb nodded to well-wishers as he waved from a convertible said to belong to St. Patrick himself.
The North Kansas City parade wasn’t even half finished when the parades in Lee’s Summit and Belton got under way.
And Irish pride was just beginning to stir along the streets of Kansas City’s Brookside neighborhood, whose 36th annual St. Patrick’s Warm-up Parade rounded out the day.
“It’s going to be our biggest one ever,” parade organizer Jennifer Gamble had predicted. “But I say that every year.”
It boasted 130 entries, of which 15 were dog-related. There was the Irish setter club. The greyhound club. Clubs for Siberian huskies and great danes.
Gamble went down the list, without mentioning the most American dog breed of all.
“We don’t have a specific mutt club,” she said, “but the Kansas City Dog Club is not for a specific kind of dog.”
Nor are St. Patrick’s Day celebrations for a specific kind of person. Everyone’s got a bit of Irish in them, they say, and the chances to celebrate the spirit continues.
On Sunday afternoon at 1, the 34th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Shawnee kicks off. Sponsored by the Irish American Club of Johnson County and others, the procession rolls east down Johnson Drive, from Monrovia Street to Nieman Road.
Then on the holiday itself, which is Thursday, comes the granddaddy of them all, the 44th annual Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade in midtown. It starts at 11 a.m. and runs down Broadway from Linwood Boulevard to 43rd Street.
When it began in 1973, it revived a 19th century tradition that had died out 80 years before.
Now with six other parades to keep it company, the chances of a similar lapse seem slight.