Yesterday, March 14th, the city of Phoenix, in the County of Maricopa, in the State of Arizona, celebrated St. Paddy’s Day with a downtown parade. Celebrating a holiday two days early may not seem unusual for a city with a reputation for being a renegade location inhabited by conservative, border-scrutinizing citizens who shun such nation-wide traditions as daylight savings time in favor of less, rather than more, daylight hours in summer. Our household, having one person of partial Irish heritage, decided we qualified to join in the celebration, albeit two days too early. The other reason was our two “grand-dogs”, Hogan Leonardo and younger brother Chuckles Cornelius, were participants in a fund raiser: Basset Hound Rescue. One of the benchmark indications of mastering a task is the ability to make an exceedingly challenging task look effortless. Taking a gaggle of leashed pups that have extremely short, sturdy legs and ears long enough to drag on the ground (which routinely get trounced on by those very same sturdy paws) and marshalling them into a dynamic marching parade troupe is no small task. But that wasn’t our problem as we sat, curbside, taking pictures of the usual municipal parade participants: politicians, marching bands (in this case the bagpipe busker* variety), vintage automobiles (in this case the convertible variety to accommodate dignitaries and beauty queens waving to the crowd with the standard royalty salute), Irish Dance Clubs, and (this being a former frontier town) horses, stagecoaches, and wagons. At the end of the parade came our troupe of pups, some bedecked in green hats, others in vests, bows, or neckties (one young spectator speculated, “Look! That dog must be a lawyer.”) The route was a full mile in length and it was a typical warm winter day in Phoenix (which means in the mid-80s), and there was no “pooped pup” truck available in case of fatigue. So the team crossed the finish line looking a bit bedraggled and in need of a big slurp of water and a long afternoon nap. But they triumphed in raising awareness about the need to rescue abandoned Basset Hounds along with a nice chunk of change collected from supporters of the cause. Here is a salute to the dogs, owners, and donors for a good job, well done!
*Busking is the practice of performing in public places, for gratuities. In many countries the rewards are generally in the form of money but other gratuities such as food, drink or gifts may be given. Street performance is practiced all over the world by men, women and children and dates back to antiquity. In English-speaking countries people engaging in this practice are called street performers or buskers.