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Doug Clark: For some, it’s heritage; for others, horoscope

Sun., March 18, 2012

I took part in Spokane’s St. Patrick’s Day parade Saturday, and boy, am I exhausted.

True, it would have been a lot worse if I actually had to walk the parade route out in the cold. Instead I rode shotgun in the heated comfort of Don Lehn’s baby blue 1965 Ford pickup.

But let me tell you. All that smiling and waving at the lines of cute little kiddies takes it out of you after a while.

If I scared any children, however, feel free to blame it on the Lesser Hillyard Business Association.

The members invited me to join their annual Paddy’s Day fun.

What could I say?

Rule 1 in the Guys Handbook: When your posse calls, you do what needs to be done.

Or maybe that’s Rule 1 in the Mafia Handbook.

Either way, Saturday’s newspaper horoscope for Aries birthdays left me little wiggle room.

“Join friends, whether it be at a ballgame or participating in an Irish event,” it read. “Your innate spontaneity comes out.”

And so 11 a.m. found me spontaneously wandering into the parade staging area, a vast parking lot near the Arena.

What a sight.

Trucks. Cement mixers. Fire trucks. Wagons. Race cars. Green balloons …

A lot of folks hope heaven will be as all-inclusive as our St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Being Irish is certainly no requirement.

The Viking ship entered by the Sons of Norway is living proof of that, although the sudden thought of corned beef and lutefisk makes me queasy.

Shortly after my arrival I was met by Steve Mauro, one of the LHBA founders who adopted me after I agreed to attend a beery meeting last year in his garage.

I’m pretty sure this parade thing was a loyalty test, so I didn’t want to blow it.

The LHBA had adopted a new mission statement, Mauro told me.

“Consider it considered.”

Bravo! The LHBA was formed as a gentle and good-humored poke at the more serious and civic-minded Greater Hillyard Business Association. That spoke to my smart-aleck ways.

Did I mention that we had royalty riding in the bed of Lehn’s truck?

Meet King John Dressler and Queen Jordan Johns. The two apparently won their titles by competing in a multibar trivia competition.

“This is my destiny,” announced King Dressler.

Good to have a goal.

After what seemed like an Ice Age, we finally began to snake our way out of the parking lot.

Lehn, I learned, is the owner of Master Blaster, a Hillyard-based sandblasting business that blasts everything from car parts to submarine parts.

If he starts blasting corrupt cops and mediocre mayors he can take over my job.

Don’s wife, Diane, sat between us. Her role in the LHBA, she explained, is to attempt to be the Voice of Reason.

And good luck to that lost cause.

Although not nearly as nuts as it once was, this parade is a still a great event for the city.

Practically everybody wears a smile. “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!” is chanted by kid after kid as we pass.

Nothing’s perfect, of course.

Take the bearded dude who was in front of our truck for a while. Part of the Humane Society contingent, the poor man was attempting to walk a baying, strong-willed hound named Billy.

It was painful to watch this awkward dance.

One step forward.

Two steps right.

One step forward.

Two steps left.

Whoever adopts Billy should have strong arms and poor hearing.

I started thinking that Billy’s walker had the worst job in the parade. That is, until one of the other Humane Society mutts suddenly squatted and downloaded right onto the parade route.

Suddenly this other guy ran over and started performing bag-up duties.

It may be St. Patrick’s Day. But that’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at

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