Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cloverdale's St. Patrick Day's Festival. A Very Catholic Event.

The Sister's of Ever Increasing Hope in the St. Patrick's Day Parade

Hello Fellow Irish and Irish For the Day,
How do I describe a St. Patrick’s Day in Cloverdale? The word Crusade comes to mind. St. Patrick’s Day provides the backdrop for a modern crusade waged by the Catholics of Cloverdale against the wolfs that have infiltrated their ranks and stolen good Catholic lambs away from salvation. The wolfs in the flock are identified as the Protestants, Evangelicals, Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses and of course Mormons. Just like St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland, the Catholics of Cloverdale seek to use this Irish holiday to reestablish the Universal Church in Cloverdale and to remind the community that the road to heaven lies through Rome. This battle for the hearts and souls of our village is fought gently, behind green banners, bagpipes, a parade and a church fair at St. Bartholomew's School. The goal is to lure the former Catholics into the sanctuary with food and drink and then remind them of what they rish by not returning to the fold. Another goal of the St. Patrick’s Day Festival is to communicate to the heathen (never been Catholic). They hope to present a faith rich in history and tradition as an alternative to the informal Christianity introduced in the Reformation.

Green banners are hung up and down the High Street at the beginning of March announcing the St. Patrick’s Day Festival. Poster are placed in shop windows listing the day’s events, times and locations. The children of St. Bartholomew’s School canvas their neighbors with flyers. Tickets to the Irish Feast in the school’s gym are sold at a very nominal price easily affordable to those with large families.

The Bishops in this Year's Grand Marshall Car

On St. Patrick’s Day the events begin with an all you can eat Irish breakfast of sausage, potato, and egg (beans on toast is an optional menu choice for those that find chewing difficult) held in Cloverdale’s Park Pavilion. The Parish Priest blesses the food and the hands that prepared it. He also consecrates the village for missionary work and conversion. At 9:00 A.M. the parade begins at St. Bartholomew’s School. The Bishop is traditionally the Grand Marshall, leading the parade in a green car. His Grace is followed by the Lord Mayor. The teaching nuns of the Holy Order of the Sisters of Ever Increasing Hope come next dancing an Irish jig with a few of their more more talented students. Irish dancing requires some athletic ability with the flexibility in the legs for nearly impossible kicks. The older nuns, to feeble to walk, sit in the back of a pick up truck and toss green salt water taffy wrapped in bible verses into the crowd. The older students walk alongside the cars passing out missionary pamphlets written by the Jesuits. The back of each pamphlet is stamped with the local Priest’s name and the daily times for Mass.

Local Business Provide Parade Floats

The Women's Axillary Provided Entertaining Cartoon Figures for the Little Ones.

Parade music is provided by the St. Bartholomew’s Bagpipe Band. I think they only know Amazing Grace because that's all they play. It’s good for most events - a sort of universal hymn. After the band comes a few floats from local businesses. The Old Time Band made up of senior citizens provides a bit of ragtime music toward the end of the procession. Cloverdale’s police car brings up the end of the parade with lights flashing and the occasional sound of the siren.

After the parade, the village is invited to the church fair and indoor carnival. Admission is free to anyone wearing green. The fair is good for an hour or so’s entertainment. Usually once you’ve played a few rounds of Bingo, dunked for apples, eaten enough cotton candy to turn your stomach pink and dunked a priest ot two you’ve hand enough for the afternoon.

The Music for the St. Patrick's Feast is Provided by the Leprechauns.
They play well when they're sober.

Later in the evening many villagers return to St. Bartholomew’s for the St. Patrick’s Feast. Admittance is granted to those that purchased tickets from the door to door sales carried out by the school’s primary school children. The menu is kept simple consisting of fresh rolls, Irish Stew, an assortment of Irish desserts and of course to wash it all down - the Irish Ale, which never stops flowing. By the end of the night your seeing green - a sort of sea sick green - but green nevertheless.

Friends, St. Patrick’s Day in Cloverdale is something not to be missed. You get to sample an Irish breakfast, enjoy a nearly forgettable parade, stomach the screeching of the bagpipes, and consume an Irish Stew of green gravy dotted with green food colored mystery meat, carrots, potatoes and everything else found in the school’s freezer that was past its sell by date. The Catholics get you for one day of the year. That seems to please them and for that, St. Patrick’s Day serves its purpose.

Have A Great Day,

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