04/18/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Obamas Keep St. Pat's Alive and Well (Public Access, Not So Much)

Nobody does St. Patrick's Day like Chicago.

Thanks to the Obamas' full-on display Tuesday, now the rest of the world knows it, too.

A St. Patty's bash at the White House is one thing I'm sure Irish presidents have held in the past. But green water in the White House fountain? Chicago's time-honored tradition of dying the river green (at least a brighter green) has finally reached the Beltway.

How many knock offs are already in the works of the green suede boots Michelle Obama wore to mark the occasion?

That a black couple from the South Side promotes St. Patrick's Day with such pride is truly reflective of how Chicago celebrates the holiday. Unlike the endless phalanxes of cops, firemen, and marching bands that make up the St. Pat's parades in the other traditionally Irish capitals of Boston and New York, Chicago goes carnival for this shit. Floats. Dancers. Groups from far-flung suburbs, or neighboring states, with vague ties to something Irish. Trolleys or buses with everybody and their new best friend on them -- Jews, blacks, gays, whatever. (Just no Michigan fans.) And that's not even talking about the real Irish parade on the South Side.

I produced the video below at the Chicago St. Pat's parade over a decade ago in hopes of doing justice to this sacred (and supposedly religious?) holiday by showing New Yorkers how it's done in my hometown for my Manhattan cable access show, Toolz of the New School. Now that the public access era of Manhattan will officially be over soon upon the transition to digital television, I humbly submit this piece for posterity of a soon to be forgotten era of independent media.

My favorite bit is when we work the St. Pat's parade route Downtown with a sign that says "Support the I.R.A." In very small letters, the sign clarifies "Illinois Restaurant Association." The reactions we got spoke volumes.