I have always wondered what it would be like to march in the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York City, the largest of its kind in the world. This year, I got my chance as I was invited by my dear friend Christopher Hyland to march with him in the 255th St. Patrick's Day parade. The march itself was one of the most Irish-American experiences I will ever have. The opportunity to march in the parade brought up memories of my maternal grandfather, Lt. Gen. William Wilson Buffalo Bill Quinn. He would have loved the opportunity to march with me as he was very proud of his Irish heritage. As a kid, I loved hearing him tell stories of his heritage and he would always promise to tell me more if I was able to chew with my mouth shut, which he taught me to do.
Christopher's invitation was an honor and soon we began planning for the big day. After many calls back and forth, we were able to make it happen and after a quick train ride to NYC, I was ready to take my first steps in honor of my Irish-American heritage. Celebrating who we are is one of the greatest things we can do I think. It was a day of friendship, history, and accidentally not setting my clock right!
The day started out early by accident as I woke up around 4:30 am, turned on my computer and got dressed. The church mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral started at 7:00 am. I had forgotten that the clock on my computer didn't adjust for daylight savings time, so I ended up getting to the church an hour early. It was a happy accident, as I was able to catch a smaller St. Patrick's Day sermon that was nice to experience. Once seven am rolled around, I met up with Christopher.
My dear friend Christopher Hyland is a really extraordinary person and advocate for the LGBT community. He was responsible for allowing LGBT (Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Trans) groups to march for the first time in the parade's 255 year history, marking a new era for the iconic parade. Thanks to Christopher, I was able to meet the Cardinal of New York who was also a wonderful person. I met many other friends including the sublime Fighting 69th National Guard Regiment and two of it's Lt. Generals. I joined him as his guest for a very Irish luncheon, where they served potatoes, corned beef, and some ham or turkey just to give people who weren't Irish a couple of options. Some asparagus was even thrown in to add a touch of green.
With Christopher, I marched underneath a baby blue sky for thirty blocks on the illustrious 5th Avenue. At the end of the day, since I'm not much of a New Yorker, the inside of my quads felt crazy sore! As the day wore on, the clouds rolled in and covered the golden star of the sun and it started to rain a little. A soft mist as the Irish would call it. The day ended with Christopher and his dear life-friend Constantino making a superb dinner of pasta and greens. We finished it off with golden-champagne and talk of memories past, relishing that we had marched in celebration of LGBT Pride and Irish heritage. Slowly the sun melted the clouds into an abyss like dusk, making for a perfect Irish sunset. The day all and all at the end would be what the Irish would call, grand!