St. Ratrick was a legendary saint who drove all the snakes from Ireland, leaving the country safe for rats. Every year a huge parade is held in Chicago to honor the many Irish immigrants who settled here. But how can we forget that other immigrant to North America: the Norway Rat?
The 2003 Parade was an unusual situation for rats which usually only come out at night. This is the first time the Rat Patrol has been an official participant in the parade. To celebrate this occasion, we invited the Black Label Bike Club from Minneapolis and the Chicago chapter of the Scallywags to join us. There were even two representatives of the Minneapolis Scallywags there!
The weather in Chicago in March can be bitterly cold, but this year the icy fingers of winter loosened and we were treated to an amazing 60-degree balmy sunny day. This was important, because it turns out that participating in the parade involves far more standing around and hanging out with other parade units than ever moving anywhere.
Of course, the Rat King came along in his Gimpy Trailer, with flag held high.
Arriving at Johnny's place, the Black Label Bike Club was already there, riding in circles on their tall bikes and ready to head down to the start of the parade. First they posed for a photo:
I needed to get to our meeting point in order to check in with the parade officials. The Black Label riders, unfamiliar with Chicago's streets, wanted a guide to the meeting point. "Follow that chicken!" someone yelled, and so we were off down Wells following the elevated tracks. It was a great start to the day, until someone had chain problems and the group headed back to fix it.
I arrived at our staging area at the same time as a parade unit from the Shedd Aquarium. I placed my lone bike right behind their octopus to stake out some space for us. "Can you move your bike back, because we've got a 30-foot fish coming in here," demanded the aquarium puppeteers. "Well I've got 50 bicycles coming in behind me!" I retorted. I don't think they believed me, but soon everyone else started to show up. The 30-foot fish didn't have a chance.
The Black Label riders and then the Chicago Scallywags showed up with their tall bikes.
And everyone stood around talking.
And more standing around.
Tim strapped the Rat Patrol banner to the front of his Urban Bikes Re-Cycle tadpole trike.
Josh ratted out his chopper with some extra wire
I think we spent 3 hours waiting for something to happen