Before I get started on my US Book Tour, I wanted to let you know about a promotion for Mothers Day that Amazon are running. They have chosen Beyond Grace’s Rainbow for it and the eBook version is now only £0.99/$1.61. Offer runs till 31st March I believe. Grace is a great Book Mother, so it’s pretty cool that she’s in a Mothers Day promotion I think! I know, I know, she’s not real. lol…..
If you want to buy, 1-click here!
Today, I’m all about the parades! A few weeks ago I was honoured to find out that I would be marching in the New York St Patrick’s Day parade with the County Wexford Association of New York. Then if that wasn’t exciting enough for me, I was asked to ride on a seriously cool float ‘Green is the Goal’ with the Irish American Heritage Center in the Chicago South Side St Patrick’s Day parade.
Sure a girl couldn’t be working all day every day right? I had to have some down time!
I want to try and put into some context how much it meant to me, to participate in these parades. Ever since I’ve been a child, I’ve watched RTE’s St Patricks Day special where they show parades from around Ireland and also around the world. Of course, with eyes wide with wonder, I would always look at the American parades, which seemed so much bigger and brighter than our own.
And my imagination didn’t let me down, because the actual experience of being IN the parades, as opposed to watching them on TV surpassed even my wildest dreams. People bedecked and bejewelled in Fifty Shades of Green, faces painted, shamrocks on coat lapels, all smiling and cheering, shouting Happy St Patricks Day to the parades as they passed by. In Chicago, I saw families who came with picnics, lining the streets, blankets on their knees as they waved at the passing floats. In New York, in addition to the crowds who lined the sidewalks, when I looked up, I saw office workers leaning out of windows dressed in green and waving to us all. And of course, I must have seen at least a hundred mad looking lepracauns on the loose around Chicago and New York!
Chicago dyed their river green and in New York, a green topped Empire State building looked like the wonderful land of Oz. I certainly felt like Dorothy!
Before I say anymore, I want to share with you a moment with you that made me feel quite emotional.
Kathy Walsh, the Library Director of the IAHC kindly offered Tracy and I a bed for the night after my day of author events on the 15th. We had such a fun evening chatting, sharing life stories and just getting to know each other better. Kathy is about to embark on a pretty big adventure herself, as she is moving to Ireland later this year to open a Bed and Breakfast in Listowel.
She gave Tracy and I a taste of what her guests could expect in the future, because the breakfast she prepared for us on the morning of the Chicago parade was amazing.
Sourdough bread served with creamy butter in quaint crockpots, the best scrambled eggs I’ve ever eaten, muesli with fruit and yoghurt, the delicate flavour of cinnamon a delight and surprise and beautiful jams and conserves. It was delicious and I’ve already pre-booked the first available date she has when she opens her guest house! Oh and I am so stealing her idea of serving toast in crockpots.
As I sat in Kathy’s beautiful dining room, in her condo in Chicago, I took in the view from her window and I have to admit I got a bit emotional.
The view of the Chicago skyline is such a sharp contrast to that of my own dining room window where green hills are resplendent but very different. It was one of those ‘we’re not in Kansas anymore’ moments and I committed the view to my memory, determined that I wouldn’t forget it. So much has happened since I started to write and this one more wonderful moment that I’ll never forget. It’s the simple things that can take our breath don’t you think?
So on the morning of the 16th, I awoke having slept extremely well and was so excited because a) I was going to the parade and b) I was flying to New York that evening where Rog would be waiting for me!
Although I enjoyed every second and soaked up every new experience, I struggled without the children and Rog. So knowing I’d have at least one part of my family with me again, well it was pretty cool!
Kathy warned Tracy and I about how cold it would be in the parade, but I had no concept of cold until I stood on that float and felt the chill of the renowned ‘Windy’ city. However, despite the cold, it was the best fun I’ve ever had! We were handed green beads and feeling like I was a beauty queen, I threw the beads to little children who were waving and shouting at all the floats as they went by. In fact, I was really overwhelmed to see how much the crowds get behind each of the floats. I was given just one simple instruction by Mike, the lovely float organiser, ‘Wave and have fun!’
Tracy and I met with some IAHC members who were also in the parade and check out John on my video clip below, who was so much fun to be around. He quickly learnt some Irish phrases and shouted them out with gusto to the crowd!
After the parade, I said my goodbyes to Tracy. Agent in a million and I’m very lucky to have her.
Then Kathy kindly drove me to the airport and I flew into Newark. When I saw Rog waiting for me, I’m sure my whoops must have startled a few. He’s a good un’ my husband. He flew into New York that afternoon and checked into our hotel, then turned around and came back out to the airport to meet me when I arrived. Yep, that’s my Rog. Plus I couldn’t be expected to carry my own bags now could I? ha ha!!!
We’d a few cocktails in Niles, the bar of the Affinia Manhattan, our hotel. Love it there, love their champagne cocktails even more! It felt so good to have Rog with me to share all the adventures I’d had so far. We’d a lot to talk about, because he had a few adventures of his own, having done Daddy Day Care for 3 days!
Then on St Patrick’s Day itself, having found some pancakes for breakfast for my sweet toothed husband, we met up with the County Wexford Association of New York, placed our purple and gold Wexford colours across our breasts and got ready to march. Thank you Elizabeth (Long) who helped Roger and I with that! I even got to march up front, helping to hold the strings attached to the banner. I’m sure they have a much fancier title than strings, but that’s all I’ve got!
I enjoyed the banter with the lads and was told cheekily, that they hoped my writing skills were better than my string holding skills!
Well, in true Wexford spirit, I’ll say right back – sure you’ll have to buy my book to find out!!!! ;) Did I mention that it’s on sale now in the USofA?
It was a very different experience marching in the parade in New York from the previous day in Chicago. It was more formal and there was a sense of occasion as the counties all marched behind their banners, four astride, wearing their colours, behind John Murphy who skillfully led us all. If you know me, you know that I’m proud to be Irish, but even more proud to be a Wexford woman and as I stepped onto 5th Avenue, beside the glorious purple banner, I thought to myself, ‘Not too shabby for a girl from The Ballagh!’
Special mention for the children who marched with us, kids of the Wexfordians living in New York, who stole the show, as children always quite rightly do, high fiving the crowds who waved and cheered us on.
Here’s a little video & photo montage of both the Chicago and New York Parade.
John from Chicago, (sorry I didn’t get your surname!) you get a cameo, showing the world your newly acquired Irish language. I hope you and Jackie enjoy!
And so, before I go, I’d like to thank once again The Irish American Heritage Center and The County Wexford Association of New York for their warm welcome and for the memories I’ll treasure.
Tomorrow, I’ll be back with Part 4!
Chat soon, Carmel xxx