In 2020, the Irish Channel Parade was among the first of many cancellations that New Orleans’ festival season endured, as it was unfortunately scheduled to roll after the WHO had declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. The parade suffered a similar fate in 2021 since the vaccine had yet to become available to everyone in Louisiana. It’s safe to say that after this long hiatus, the celebration came back with a bang in 2022, and in my opinion is now a contender for one of the best parades I have attended during my soon-to-be four years in this city.
For starters, the float riders at this parade were easily the most generous I have experienced, which is a testament to how excited they were to finally ride again. My friends and I filled three bead bags to the brim in the 90-minute-or-so duration of the parade, which is more than I caught during all of the days of Mardi Gras combined this year. The throws were also unique, as items I caught included Maruchan Ramen, Irish Spring soap, nail polish, hair feathers, a feather boa, a carnival mask, and a velvet flower. Also, I am proud to say I caught two cabbages, which are the signature throw of the parade. For comparison, I have felt lucky in the past to just catch a cup or a frisbee in lieu of beads.
My temporary luck of the Irish can probably be attributed to the fact that it was incredibly easy to stand right by the floats. There were very few barriers in the area where I was standing, and there were large gaps between them so I could get as close to the action as possible. I got perfect views of the many celebrity-themed floats, with tributes to Elvis, J-Lo, and Madonna among them.
The parade itself was pretty family-friendly compared to other parades (aside from maybe the depiction of a fictional king’s head on a stick that a group of men with kilts and swords were carrying). A number of children were riding the floats, many families stood on the parade route, and I even saw one float rider give a young girl an entire scooter. That being said, there was an entire block party at Tracey’s and Parasol’s, which are two Irish bars near the route. While there was space for the kids to have fun, the adults certainly did too.
Despite the wind advisory and the chillier-than-average weather, the entire Irish Channel lit up this past weekend. I have never been one to celebrate much aside from maybe putting on a green shirt, but this experience has fully converted me into an avid lover of the holiday. If you happened to miss the parade this time around, be sure to catch it next year. There are also more celebrations planned on St. Patrick’s Day, as well as a St. Joseph’s Day Parade on March 19 if you somehow have recovered sufficiently from all of the other New Orleans festivities by then.
Featured Image via Lauren Capozzi