The Pipes are Callin'

I’ve posted to you before about Watertown’s Northcountry Goes Green Irish Festival, held every March at the State Office Building, but we’ve never covered Binghamton’s St. Patrick’s Day equivalent: Parade Day. Binghamton holds its St. Patrick’s Day parade earlier than most, a few weeks in advance of March 17. This is a strategic decision, allowing the parade to attract bagpipe bands from New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, that would have otherwise been booked to perform in their own cities. Binghamton’s parade is large, and the hullabaloo around it, even bigger. Downtown Binghamton turns into a very chilly Cancun on that one Saturday each March, with festive attire and drunken revelry ruling the day.

This year, our Parade Day crew included Shawn and me, Melinda and BLD, and two of BLD’s work friends, Tonia and Steve. We met lots more friends along the way, of course, but this was our core group. Of course, a day-long odyssey of alcohol consumption and frigid city transversing requires a plan of attack. We had planned to begin our day at Zona and Co Grille, but instead ended up at the Binghamton Club for an hour or two before venturing outside to see some of the parade. At the Binghamton Club, we enjoyed the Irish-themed buffet and some kick-off beverages. I really loved the Bing Club’s corned beef and cabbage, which was tender and flavorful, and their roasted parsnips, but the potato soup was a little bland, and the steak and kidney pie looked dried out.

Then we ventured out and about to watch the parade and cavort on State St, in the one block sanctioned for outdoor drinking. It was insane out there, and more than a little freezing. Once we were all nearing frost bite status, we hightailed it into Zona for some heat and more beverages, meeting up with Kate and Tom, some random Russian dudes, and our friend Josh, who was sporting the biggest flat Stanley I’ve ever seen. And no, that is not an anatomy joke.

After a good stay, and several adult beverages, at Zona, we hit the de riguer Holiday Inn for a spell. All of the pipe bands go to the Holiday Inn to perform in the ballrooms after the parade, so it’s a popular spot. Not my particular favorite, but that may be because I didn’t go to high school here – it’s kind of the homecoming spot everyone hits.

In fact, Shawn and Melinda got separated from the group at one point when they were watching the bagpipes, and there was some very frantic texting while we were trying to retrieve them. But most of mine said something like, “Where the heck are you? I’m starving and want to move on.” I know this is shocking information. Who, me? Want food?

So back to Zona we trod, and this is what I ate:

Mmmmm, cheesesteak. Looking back on it now, that is a LOT of food, and I probably put that whole board down in, maybe, eight minutes? My appetite is not to be messed with under the best of circumstances, and copious Labatt Blue Lights and cold temps are not the best. This was a little sloppier than the version Shawn got in January when we reviewed Zona, but no less delicious, with tender steak and those resplendent fries. The place was packed with wall to wall people, and for a new, fledgling business, Parade Day must have been a godsend.

I’m happy to report that our group kept everything in line and behaved like grown-ups. No shenanigans were had, despite carousing from noon until around 11 p.m. or so. After dinner at Zona, our group returned to the Binghamton Club for some wind-down bowling and restful rehydration, which was just what the leprechaun ordered. While some use Parade Day as an excuse to drink to excess and get crazy, I look at it more like a first glimpse of a summer BBQ, cavorting with friends for a day-long bacchanal of fun. So, how did you spend Parade Day, Big Hungries? Did you bust out a special outfit, like my epic Poehler/Fey 2016 T-shirt, or make your own corned beef and cabbage? Did you come out and watch the parade, or enjoy festivities from a quieter locale? Share your tales in the comments, below.

My hunger is big; my personality is bigger!


  1. I need that sweater.

    Did you guys have mummers this year?

  2. There were Mummers, but they go to a different venue after the parade, not the Holiday Inn, so we missed them. Will MFD's band ever come up?

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