This day of green has origins that few really understand – I among them – but all can get behind it for one reason or another. It is indeed a holiday with a very broad appeal. Something that I was not so aware of was the extent to which they celebrate it in Chicago, but having heard rumors of raucous fervor I was excited to check it out. I joined my new roomie and a couple of his friends for a morning walk to the train station. It was not even noon, yet the way the platform was filling out with loud, young people was indeed an omen. We rolled an hour or so as the train grew rowdier at each stop, eventually culminating in insanity at Union Station. “How many USA USA USA cheers do you think we’ll hear today?” “Not enough.” We met with the rest of our crew and marched through the green clad crowds towards the hotel my companions had booked. I was going to keep that as an option, but if somewhere nicer than the bathtub presented itself to me, I’d take it. Once checked in, it was time to sip on our first green beers. After those first cups of the seasonal brew, we walked outside a little bit more to enjoy the madness. The streets were crawling with Chicago’s youth, all of them coming in from far and wide to partake in the festivities. One of the annual traditions is to dye the river green, which they do an incredible job of. Apparently, only 40 pounds of pigment are necessary to stain it emerald for days on end. It was an odd sight indeed. We hopped from one establishment to the next, starting in the downtown area, which was not so cheap. A lot of people let their finances run amok for the day, but I had a budget I was looking to come in under. In order to help that plan succeed, I subsidized my food consumption with two bagel sandwiches that I toted in my jacket pocket. My companions quickly went from scornful to jealous. Here is a poorly made compilation of some of the most smile inducing moments. There were plenty of bagpipers piping, which some clearly enjoyed. An entire bar was reduced to gaping awe when a leprechaun clad midget started dancing on the table. It was hard to fathom the sheer spectacle of that moment. There were also some marching bands making passes down the streets and through the taverns spreading cheer to all. ‘Par for the course’ indeed!
We decided to shift locale and ride the L on over to Wriglyville. I’d never been to this neck of the woods yet, and it really is one of those famous areas of town. I saw Wrigley Field for the first time, and the way that it appears dropped right into the city helped me understand why it’s such a landmark. We made some rounds here, but this was the last of my evening with this group of friends. A couple of fraternity brothers were hanging out a few stops away, and I was ready for a change of pace. Before breaking off, the lot of us dropped into Lucky’s Sandwich Co. where I unnecessarily got The Big Kahuna. I was blown away at the size of what came out, but I managed to plummet the monstrosity down my gullet. St. Patrick’s Chicago style was everything I never expected it to be. I did come in under budget, which is more than most can say I’m sure. The whole experience was memorable, and not unlike what I seek while off on my travels. I’ll surely be looking forward to next year.