I love a parade

Hillary marches in the St. Patrick's Day parade, braving the snow, Rudy and catcalls from the left and the right.

Published March 18, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

"She's honest? She doesn't bake cookies. She manufactures lies." -- sign held by a St. Patrick's Day parade-goer and Hillary Rodham Clinton critic on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 44th Street.

This St. Patrick's Day parade began innocuously enough. Clinton attended Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, sitting a few rows behind her prospective opponent for U.S. Senate, Mayor Rudy Giuliani. She appeared at the holiday's annual breakfast organized by long-time City Council Speaker Peter Vallone.

"It is just a great pleasure to be here as a New Yorker for St. Patrick's Day," she told the crowd at the Princeton Club (where she also relayed a hello from her husband, busy huddling with negotiators involved in the Northern Ireland peace process).

"I hope she knows her way," Giuliani jabbed a little later on.

There wouldn't be a ton of Democratic elected officials marching today. In New York City, the parade is a source of controversy. The event's organizers do not permit the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization to take part, and as a result, numerous Democrats skip the event. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and former Mayor David Dinkins, for example, were both absent Friday. (Clinton apparently did not know about the contretemps back in December when she was asked whether she would march and quickly answered in the affirmative.)

She wore a black trench coat, a kelly green silk scarf, a wide-eyed grin and assembled alongside Vallone, former Mayor Ed Koch, assorted other pols and a line of school children braving bone-chilling temperatures. A light snow began to fall.

And then, after a flurry of introductions, she was off -- up Fifth Avenue, waving to the onlookers, surrounded by an absolute swarm of television cameras, photographers and scribbling reporters. The pack often seemed to nearly overwhelm Clinton and her entourage, making her all but invisible at times to the parade's onlookers. ("Back up! Back up!" shouted various Clinton and city council aides.)

But almost immediately, the catcalls and boos began.

"Go back to Arkansas!" was probably the most popular one.




Whenever the boos got too loud, Clinton's volunteers would commence a chant of "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!" They handed out green shamrock stickers emblazoned with "Hillary" to people in the crowd.

Clinton, her smile intact, marched onward, continuing to wave at the parade-watchers on the sidelines.

She approached 59th Street and Fifth Avenue.

The snow was getting heavier.

"Shame! Shame!" screamed protesters from the Cleveland Irish LesBiGay Organization. "She's marching with bigots," explained Florence Sullivan, a 34-year-old teacher from Manhattan. (Several dozen protesters from the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization were arrested during a demonstration earlier in the day after attempting to march.)

The crowd of onlookers got progressively thinner the farther north the marchers went, an apparent casualty of the weather. The catcalls cooled down.

Clinton and company got to 86th Street, the end of the parade route, where they turned east. She waved to a group of teenagers, who yelled out words of encouragement. "Ohmigod, there she is," said one.

The crowd was thinner still. A pair of black vans appeared. Her aides whisked her into one of them, shut the doors. And she was done for the day.

By Jesse Drucker

Jesse Drucker covers politics for Salon from New York.

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Hillary Rodham Clinton U.s. Senate