Aye, 'twas a strange sight.
There were green horses and a cow-colored truck; girls wearin' emerald-colored crowns and marching turtles and alligators; men in Civil War uniforms and old ladies towing a van. There was even a dog contingent: Wolfhounds and a short, furry beast who kept trying to pretend to be one of the gang. A man in a bright, checkered jacket handed a stranger a potato and yelled "Hurray for Ireland."Amid all that, Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis pulled up his pant leg to show his green socks.
It could only be the annual Hibernian Society's St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Cool temperatures and drizzling skies dampened the ground but not the spirits of the hundreds of Utahns who lined Main Street Saturday for the good-natured event, which attracted 100-plus entries and even more laughs.
The Hibernian Society takes its name from "Hibernia," the designation ancient Romans gave Ireland, according to parade emcee John Welsh.
As usual, the parade was a mixture of decorum (very little) and high jinks (plenty).
Irish-born - or at least descended - dignitaries sat upright in their cars, waving to the crowds. High school, junior high and intermediate school bands played. Girls, ranging from the very young to the almost adult, marched.
Marching bands, in fact, took a big portion of the parade. Like the MacNamara "Non-precision, Mobile, Marching, Pushing and Riding Lawnmower Auxiliary." That's right. A green-bedecked mob of mowers, forming circle-eights and curlicues in downtown Salt Lake City.
There were clowns, too. The youngest, and most charming, couldn't have been a year old. The clowns skated, rode bikes, walked, waltzed and juggled their way through the puddles. An independent clown, age 9, rode a unicycle.
The largest entry was the El Kalah Temple Shriners, who had a band, a minibike brigade, little cars, clowns, an oriental band, chanters, a bus with past masters and men on horseback.
The smallest entry was a dog in a green T-shirt. There were rumors he was a plant, sneaked in part way through to avoid the registration process.
A convalescent center, Scout troops (boys and girls, both), Job's Daughters, miniature horses, parochial and public schools, car clubs, local businesses, motorcycle cops, young basketball champs, bicyclists and honor guards all got in the act.
Dozens of families - some with Irish names like Gallagher, Kennedy, Brennan, Quinn, Glasheen, MacShane and Murphy O'Pignanelli - walked and waved. And for just over an hour, people of all races and creeds had something in common.
They had a "wee bit of Ireland in 'em."