Sweet, bitter, sugary and salty stories. Welcome to my world, past and present.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
St. Paddy's Day
As a feature reporter for an NBC affiliate years ago in the Midwest, my assignment was to visit local pubs in central Illinois and interview Irishmen drinking and toasting on St. Paddy’s Day. A no-brainer, right?
My camerman and I thought we had an easy day ahead and expected to wrap the St. Paddy’s Day story up early so we could enjoy the holiday.
We entered one Irish bar and started conversations with the “revelers,” clanking their green beer mugs together, shouting “Erin Go Bragh” (an Irish blessing used to express allegiance to Ireland) and breaking into choruses of “Danny Boy.”
Everything seemed traditional Irish. I was raised in Chicago where the river was dyed green for the occasion, and a parade paid honor to the many Irish communities that live in the windy city.
As I walked from one drinker to the next, I found many nationalities: Germans, Scots, Dutch, Italians and assorted heritages, but not one Irishman among them.
OK, so we picked the wrong bar randomly. As the night wore on and we hit a number of pubs, I wondered if I was going to meet any Irish drinkers (or at least those who would admit it) in central Illinois.
That night as the bar voices got louder telling jokes and singing Irish songs, no one I talked to claimed to be Irish. I was baffled, and it was turning into a long night.
Astonished, I never did find one. My only choice as a roving reporter was to flip the story assignment to: There are no Irish in central Illinois’ drinking establishments on St. Paddy’s day (not much fun), or go generic and show people having a good time on an Irish holiday.
For one day wherever we are, we can all be Irish, gulp green beer and sing “When Irish Eyes are Smiling.” And that’s no blarney.
Erana Leiken, principal of Tiger Marketing, is a marketing and PR consultant and freelance writer. She also teaches communication courses at the University of Phoenix and Web marketing and interactive content for the Art Institute of Phoenix.
Formerly an NBC reporter, magazine editor, and Web business writer, she is writing creative nonfiction and doing Web consulting. See www.tigermarketing.com.