Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My Most Memorable St. Paddy's Day

Being of considerable Irish ancestry, when I was a younger guy, I used to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in the fashion a lot of young guys do. I had a lot of fun, but none of these came close to my greatest St. Paddy's Day memory.

In 1986, I was just out of college. A college friend knew I was looking for work and got me an interview for a clerk's position at the small legal firm her then-husband worked at. I got the job, and for the next 2 years, I worked at the downtown Chicago company.

The company's office was located on Dearborn Avenue, just a couple of minute's walk from many of the city and county offices I would be called on to file papers at. Dearborn Avenue was also the street that the annual St. Patrick's Day parade took place on.

That day, as any other, I was called upon to file some papers at some office. I left the office and had to wait for the parade to pass by. I saw Mayor Harold Washington, Chicago's first African-American mayor, march by next to Illinois' governor, Jim Thompson, and a bunch of local politicians. I hardly noticed that representatives from Lender's Bagels were handing out green bagels wrapped in plastic.

The bigwigs passed by and the marching bands approached. And then it began.

I guess it never occurred to the promotion genius that thought this one up-- I don't know what's worse-- handing out green bagels? Handing out green bagels to drunk people? Handing out green bagels to drunk people who are watching a parade?

It started slowly at first, and picked up steam, and eventually a virtual storm of bagels began raining down on the poor high school bands. Green bagels. And since the bagels were wrapped, people were picking them back up and throwing them again.

Just when I thought it couldn't get any more awful and surreal, it did-- it suddenly occurred to the drunken revelers to try to throw the bagels into the tubas. As each tuba player passed by, dozens of people tried to fling the green bagels into the tuba.

It was probably fortunate that those winging the bagels were loaded; I'm pretty sure not one bagel found its mark into a tuba. Still, the image of thousands of green bagels raining down onto a parade is one that I won't ever forget. And neither will Lender's-- to my knowledge, they never did this promotion again.

10 comments:

Churlita said...

That's crazy. Our local bagel bakery hands out free black and gold bagels at the homecoming parade. Luckily, there aren't many drunk people to pelt the marching bands at that parade.

kirby said...

That story ranks right up there with WKRP's Thanksgiving Day turkey promotion.

SkylersDad said...

"As God is my witness, I thought Turkeys and bagels could fly"

Some Guy said...

Haha! I have a vague recollection of this, JY.

purplelar said...

That's not as bad as the metal beer cans that were thrown at my high school band as we marched in 1979.
I got hit in the head.

Bubs said...

I remember this! At the time I worked down on south Wells, and hated having to make my way through the St Patrick's Day crowds. Alcock's bar was a haven for those goofy drunks.

Erik Donald France said...

So crazy, as befits the day I guess. I was about to get married on Chernobyl Day . . . talk about your green fuzz, your neon chicken Kiev!

In Detroit, you've got Corktown. But Dearborn -- the old Army road to Dearborn, Mich.?

lulu said...

Hey Bub, back in my bad girl days I used to spend a lot of time hanging out with the CBOE guys in Alcock's. That place got really sleazy.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Dodger Stadium considers other staduims' propensity for handing out useless team logo junk as something of a dare, I think, as they pretty much give something away every single game. And if the team sucks, said junk ends up on the field. Which is not too bad, until the day they handed out mini baseball bats. Dang! Those things looked like they hurt.

bubbles said...

OMG Alcocks? I may have been a goofy drunk that bubs remembers!! I'm very sure I was there the day of the Bears Super Bowl parade... recovering from almost being trampled.

I swear, really, I never threw a bagel at anyone! However, I did throw a toaster at Mr. Ex once. He totally deserved it.