The weekend was a whirlwind here at Casa Poolman. St Patrick’s Day is a major holiday in Savannah, roughly a one-day equivalent to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, without the nudity. (Green beads don’t get you a show here.)
Our weekend started on Thursday, when my sister and brother-in-law arrived for a visit from California. They have retired and are taking their time, moving across the country, stopping to visit everyone they know from Redondo Beach to Maine. They picked a Savannah’s most interesting weekend to stop here.
For the past ten years, Mrs. Poolman and I have hosted a party of sorts on St. Patrick’s Day. We stake out a piece of one of the downtown squares on the parade route and set up a parade version of a football tailgate party. We have food. We have drink. And we have lots of people. I think we are going to have to reevaluate our plan before next year. The event in general and our little piece of it have grown so large and crowded that it wasn’t that much fun.
In the past, Mrs. Poolman has rented a porta-potty, mounted it on the back of a pick-up truck and reserved it for the use of our group.
This year, our problems started on Thursday, when Mrs. P got a call from the porta-potty company saying that the city was going to enforce an ordinance against the placement of the potties, either on trucks, or on public property. Mrs. P was extremely upset and began plotting a scheme for next year.
Saturday morning started nice and early, 3 am to be exact. Mrs. Poolman and I were downtown by 4 am to lay a claim to a precious piece of real estate. There were already quite a few people standing around the perimeter of the square awaiting the go-ahead to actually move in and set up a party spot. We negotiated with some of the earlier arrivals, and discouraged some later arrivals from poaching on our claim. When the police finally allowed people into the square at 6 am, we ended up with a plot that included about 15 feet of parade frontage on the perimeter of the square. We had only one minor hassle, when a woman with the group next to us tried to push my friend, Birdie (of our Europe trip last year), out of the way. Pushing Birdie is not a good idea. He stood his ground and they exchanged a few words, but no one came to blows.
As the sun started to come up between 7:30 and 8 am, other people, invited and not, started to show up. By the time the parade started around 10:30 am, we had entirely too many people squeezed into a relatively small area.
It turned out the problem was not really in the number of people we had invited. Our real issue was that many of our invitees had turned around and invited a goodly number of their friends too. A couple of extras would not have been a problem. But when some of our guests showed up with an additional five or six of their family or friends, it added up quickly. I found myself standing in the middle of our extremely crowded picnic site and asking, “Who the heck are all these people?”
It was a very good time. One bright side was the appearance of our friends Sam and Lynn and their two 19-month old twins, Helen and Brittany. Very cute!
It was still a lot of work, mostly for people who I don’t even know. If we do it again next year, we are going to have to seriously cut back on the “extra guests.” If you have a group of five or six people, then you are welcome to come on down at 0-dark-30 and get a site of your own next to ours.
The issue of the crowds that seem to grow geometrically ever year is a more difficult problem. There is talk about changing the rules for claiming a party site, maybe even doing a lottery or an auction. I don’t have a good answer. Next year’s party will also be on a Saturday, which means it will be as crazy as this year was. (March 17 will be a Sunday, but the parade will be held on Saturday.) If the rules remain the same, we may have to start posting people on the street adjacent to the square the evening before and work in shifts. At the very least, it now appears that 2 or 3 am will be the latest one can show up and get a good site.
This is going to require some thought and discussion.