Halloween in Good Old Derry!

Trip Start Oct 15, 2013
Trip End Jan 09, 2014

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What I did
Derry Halloween Parade

Flag of United Kingdom  , Northern Ireland,
Thursday, October 31, 2013

I would say Halloween has been a highlight of this trip, but that may be a dramatic understatement. In Derry, people go HARD for Halloween, and we got to learn that in the coolest way possible.

When Megan and I returned from Belfast, we found ourselves invited to a Halloween party at the Cathedral Youth Club. The Youth Club, a Protestant organization dedicated to providing an after-school safe haven for youth, is one of our community partners. They were forced out of the "walled city" of Derry (it's the last one in Europe!) and to the Bogside years ago. I’ve been there a few times, just to play with the kids and mess around. They’re really cool little rascals; one girl in particular likes to scare me every time I come into her line of sight. I usually have more fun with these kids than anyone else. They like line dance and ghost hunting. Check plus.

Anyway, we made our way over to the Halloween party, where costumes awaited us. We had already been adorned in tiger makeup by some of our housemates, so we had tiger tops to go with our outfits. Earlier in the week, we had practiced drumming for the Halloween parade; they had asked our students to perform, which was very telling of the positive relationship we have developed. Our musicianship levels were varied, but most of us could at least handle keeping a beat.

Since we had practiced drumming earlier in the week, we already knew what drums we would play in the parade. Six of us had larger drums and the rest had smaller percussion accessories. Everyone who wanted to march was able! We were led by Alan, one of the adults at the Youth Club. One thing that has struck be about Alan is his silent authority. I swear, the man can command an entire room of kids without even speaking. He has such a strong presence and I can tell he makes positive impacts on people. Cool guy.

As the rain fell on us and our drums, we found our way to the beginning of the parade. At this point, we started to realize the magnitude of this event. There were hundreds of people lining the streets. Picture fifteen Americans dressed in tiger suits swimming in a sea of Irish locales and you’re almost there. When we started our march, I was completely floored. Hundreds of people? Try over 10,000. Of course, I hammed it up for every camera I could find and even landed on some publicity material for the city of Derry! Photo is on the side ;) Add some fireworks, and I'm quite positive that was the Halloween of a lifetime.

If you ever find yourself in Derry for Halloween, be warned. EVERYWHERE was packed with people, and many bars required tickets. You would think this tiny town wouldn’t require bouncers, but we certainly had to sweet talk a doorman or two. We didn’t end up staying out very late, but made out obligatory run to Paolo’s Pizza, the best late night pizza around. Try eating that in a Smurf suit and we’ll talk about Halloween struggles.

Nicole, a friend of mine on the trip, ventured with two others and myself to a local club. We get along famously well because the girl rivals me for adventurous spirit. She’s always down for a random journey, which Is what fuels my soul. We traipsed around Derry for a while, making our way home well into the morning among thousands of people. Imagine New Year’s in New York City and you’ve got a pretty accurate scale.

More soon! This week is gonna be jam-packed, as we’ll start to have a few more free days including… Dublin! Sending all my love J

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