Marion Rose’s 14th birthday was on St. Patrick’s Day. I asked her months ago what she wanted to do for her party, and her response was quick:
“How about Savannah?”
Hmm. Now I’ve heard stories about Savannah and St. Patrick’s Day, and not all of them, shall we say, “family friendly.” Things that might’ve sounded OK as a younger person now send a wave of fear through a middle-aged parent.
I had to devise an itinerary that fit our group. There are lots of fun ghost tours to be found in Savannah, so that was a sure bet. The city hosts an Irish-themed, family friendly festival every year called “Tara Feis” that sounded good, so that made it. We found out about a Scottish pub that serves great Scottish food, so we figured we’d give that a shot. And, of course there’s always The Pirate House, our family’s favorite restaurant. Add to that lots of cool history things, like Bonaventure Cemetery, the squares, etc., and we figured we could fill the time and avoid too much debauchery.
So we loaded Marion Rose, her brother Ransom Lee, her friend Harley Inlow and the parents into the van and headed out Friday afternoon.
Upon arriving in Savannah, one thing was clear — the police department was all over the city en masse. At every corner, you saw an officer or a squad car or something of the sort. As we walked to Molly McPherson’s Scottish pub, streets were cordoned off and bands were playing all over the downtown area — all under the watchful eye of law enforcement.
Now remember, this was Friday night, and St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t until Monday.
Once inside the pub, the kids were totally intrigued. Scottish national flags and family clan flags hung from the ceiling, and tons of photos of Scotland adorned the walls. Native music played through the room. We ordered a sampler of Scottish fare, including Scotch eggs (hard-boiled rolled in minced sausage and deep fried), meat pie, potato scones, smoked salmon stuffed with crème cheese and chives and other cool items. It was all wonderful.
We saw a man wearing a kilt there. We met a server with a serious Mohawk who was a self-proclaimed “Scottish soccer hooligan.” We sat next to a man who was at least 7 feet tall and kept telling us how ‘short’ all of us were (I am 6-2, by the way).
We then went on our ghost tour to visit the inside of the Sorrel-Weed house, which is supposed to be the most haunted home in Savannah, which is supposed to be one of the most haunted cities in the world. It made me feel good that two life-sized portraits of Robert E. Lee were among the lavish decorations inside.
We’ve done lots of ghost tours and walks, and they’re always a little spooky and mostly plain old fun. But something happened on this particular tour that was both scary and unnerving.
While in the basement, Marion Rose and Harley were sitting on a couch by themselves “talking” to the ghosts, trying to evoke a response. I was playing the role of the mischievous dad, sneaking up beside them to say “boo” and make them jump.
As I snuck, a loud crack popped through the mostly silent room, and something hit me. The crack happened right above my head, and it was clear something had impacted the exposed rafters/beams. I pulled out my phone and looked down on the floor, and right by my foot was a rock — the same rock a lady clear across the room had just stepped on and moved out of the way.
The rock had inexplicably flown across the room at a high rate of speed and hit just above me. Can’t explain it, won’t even attempt to.
Needless to say, I stopped sneaking up on people.
On Saturday, we spent the majority of the day at Tara Feis. Everything there was 100 percent family oriented and themed Irish. The music, dancers, food, arts, crafts — you name it. Marion Rose has always wanted to learn to play fiddle, so while there we presented her with one for her birthday.
I couldn’t help but wonder if Thomasville couldn’t host something similar since there isn’t a St. Patty’s Irish-fest anywhere near here.
As Saturday wore on, the more serious partiers started pouring into downtown. One thing is very clear when you see that many people gathered. There are a lot of really overweight people in America today, and apparently a woeful shortage of clothes made to fit them.
Along with too many of the partiers, I guess mirrors don’t work much anymore, either.
Supper at The Pirate House included birthday cake topped with a sparkler served by a pirate, who called the girls “pirate princesses,” and a tour of the place by a Scottish girl dressed as a pirate wench.
So, in summary, a pirate called her a princess while serving homemade pound cake topped with strawberries and whipped cream, she ate authentic Scottish fare in a Scottish pub, saw men wearing kilts, had a Scottish wench tour her through one of the most famous pirate houses anywhere, spent an afternoon at an Irish festival, got a fiddle, and had a rock thrown by a ghost near her.
Yeah, I’d say that’s a pretty good birthday weekend for a pretty good girl.