• James Parry

Parrywinkle March 17, 2016

Wow, what a wonderful weekend! Weather-wise and otherwise. In our little hamlet by the lake. Vees of honking Canada Geese back from wherever they have been for the past few months. Snow rapidly melting. Sump pumps working overtime. Mate-seeking Cardinals singing their little lungs out. And green on the ground appearing everywhere. A harbinger of this Saturday, March 19, when hundreds of participants and thousands of spectators from far and wide will turn our town into a sea of green as the 7th annual Hudson St. Patrick's Day Parade wends its way along Main Road from Côte St. Charles to Cameron starting at 1 p.m.

And if the sold-out Dinner and Dance for the Irishman of the Year, Derek Johnson, hosted by the Royal Canadian Legion Hudson Branch #115 at the Stephen F. Shaar Community Centre on Friday, March 11, is any indicator, we are in for one heck of ride. Sure 'n begorrah!

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LOQUACIOUS LEPRECHAUN - Take the traditional Blessing of the Shillelagh, for example. The symbolic anointing - with gentle drops of Irish Whiskey - of Hudson's very own club, cudgel, or walking stick that is passed on to the incoming honoree by two former Men of the Year, Pat O'Grady (2011) and Frank Hicks (2012).

Stepping up to the podium, to much applause and obviously in the true spirit of the evening, Frank - always a strong supporter of positive thinking in our fair burg and is a dead ringer for a mischievous Leprechaun.

“I am no public speaker,” said Frank. “Born in Ireland and brought up among Irish people, I can’t pronounce th’s worth a damn. So when I say 'I tawt I saw a pussy cat', I am not trying to impersonate Tweetybird, I actually speak that way.” Kaboom!

“This is the part of the evening where we christen the shillelagh. Some of you might find this tradition strange but let me assure you that there is nothing strange about it coming from the land of banshees. A banshee is a mean nasty old hag that hangs around your house forecasting death. I tawt I saw a banshee at my house in Hudson one night but it just turned out to be an unscheduled visit from my mother-in-law.

Some guests were rolling in the aisles with laughter as Frank continued with a straight face, “To those of you that consider any part of the evening irreverent, suggestive, and politically incorrect, I offer my sincere apologies. To those that applaud it, however, I offer my admiration for your intelligence, understanding, judgement, veracity, foresightedness, wonderful sense of humour, and amazing good looks. And in the words of St. Patrick, He that believes shall be saved. And he that does not believe shall be shipped to England!”

Ah, you gotta love it. That being said, having been born in Yorkshire, England, and declared an honourary resident of Courtmacsherry in Eire's County Cork on the part of the pub owner there who presented me with a Murphy’s pint glass to prove it and which I still treasure, you are forgiven. And see you at the parade!

Unless we pass in crossing. For last year, if I recall correctly Frank, you rushed up to me outside Cunningham's Pub and asked in true Irish logic, “Where were you going at the parade when I saw you coming back? I ran after you. But when I caught up to you, you'd gone!”

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SUPER STORMTROOPERS - Where I'm sure that most of us will be wearing Irish-related regalia bought at a local dollar store - how on Earth did we manage before they opened? - have learned that a major contingent will be participating in the parade for the second time all 'dressed' in white and from a galaxy far, far away.

Yup, stalwarts of the Star Wars' 501st Legion will be there in force hoping that it will be with you too. And for a very good cause. Namely - together with our local BMO Bank of Montreal branch on Cameron - helping to raise funds for such worthwhile causes as the Make-A-Wish-Foundation, both the Montreal Children's Hospital and St. Justine Hospital, and even the SPCA.