Yesterday was one of the New England Garrison's biggest events of the year, the South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade, held on the Sunday before the holiday every year. It's been an annual event every year for our group, and this year was probably one of the best ones that we've ever done - there was a lot of happy, but tired troopers at the end of the route, which was great.
This was my second year trooping this event. Prior years, I had been busy, and not as into the 501st as I am now. This time around was markedly different from years past - it was warm. 2008's parade was around 30 or so degrees throughout, which wasn't too bad while we were walking around, but when we had to stop and wait for things to start, it was frigid. This time around, temperatures were in the upper forties to low fifties, and sunny. It allowed for some fantastic pictures, and time spend waiting not huddled together for warmth.
This year also marked the first year that the Canadian Garrison (at least the members from Montreal), came down to troop with us. I met up with them in Montpelier, and we drove down in a small 501st convoy to Boston. We spent part of the afternoon in Boston walking along the Freedom Trail to sightsee for a bit, which was fantastic, because I haven't done that sort of thing in a long time.
Saturday night was the Garrison meetup at a Cambridge bar, where everyone socialized, got to talk, play pool and have fun. Things wrapped up around 1 am, where everyone went off to bed to prepare for the long walk. This is the part that I really like about our group - I count many of the New England Garrison as some of my closest friends, and given the distances, I don't get to see many of them very often. I don't get out as much as I'd like to, so this was one of the times when I've been able to really socialize.
Sunday was game day. I spent the night at a fellow garrison member's apartment, and we were up pretty early, where we got our things together, picked up another couple members and arrived at our assembly point, where most of the garrison had already arrived. We had to get there early, to avoid the crowds and closed roads, and we waited around before suiting up and getting in formation around noon. There were pictures aplenty. I uploaded all of mine, taken before we all suited up, and you can see them here.
The parade was one of the best troops that I've done in a long time. It was long, four miles, and up and down hills, something I'm paying for today, but it was worth it. I used my Clone Trooper for the first time, and was up in front with several other clones and got to see the reactions of people as we appeared. This is one of the fun parts, to watch as people's faces awake with recognition at who were were. There were a ton of kids who were extremely excited to see us, shake and slap our hands, and to take pictures with us, but also the older college students and adults in the crowd. They called out for Vader and ran out to take pictures of us - at times, a little annoying, because we had to keep a steady pace in the parade. I felt bad at having to motion that I had to keep moving - I'd love to take pictures with whomever wanted them. It's quite something to bring a character to life for people.
After the parade was over, we rode back on buses, desuited and departed. Unlike last year, we didn't all go out to dinner, although I was driving back up with the Canadians, and we stopped for dinner on the way up, before we departed our own ways along the route as we stopped for gas or breaks.
This is why I troop - it is events like this that make it worthwhile, to see the faces of the crowds upon us. That sort of excitement is addicting, and I'm more than happy to bring it to life for people.