|Bretonne on Lexington Ave, St. Patrick's Day|
Heading toward the subway station at Lex and 77th this early afternoon, I came upon large clusters of parade participants who had just finished marching 45 blocks up Fifth Avenue. Bagpipers, handsome NYFD in their dress uniforms, and -- wait, what's that I see? -- Bretonnes in their finest ancient finery!
I was behind one woman for the two blocks until the subway entrance. All at once, though, it seemed that everyone around me was speaking French. Even the three giggling young American women flourishing empty Solo cups, wearing sparkly green deely-boppers, their faces painted with emerald shamrocks, were saying, "Yah, like it's 'Bonjooor and cawmontallay voo,' right?" Laughing and practicing their long-ago 7th-grade French lessons.
About 10 paces ahead of me, the woman in ancient Bretonne dress, to my amusement, was chatting on her cell phone. I relish those anachronisms.
Finally, at the top of the stairs to the subway, foot traffic was jammed, and so as we all waited I asked (in French) for the story -- it didn't matter who I asked because I was surrounded by French. But I found the perfect spokesperson, who even had a business card.
It turns out that
a) there is a Breton Association here in New York, BZH New York.
b) this organization brought 100 traditional Breton performers from Quimper to New York for the event. We do know, most of us, about the Celtic roots of Brittany, so it does seem so à propos for St. Patrick's Day.
It wasn't the right time for me to wax enthusiastic about my love of Brittany, my first unforgettable visit to Guingamp in my college years and how more recently I almost -- almost -- bought a house there. But I look forward to getting to know the Bretons of New York a bit better.
And then the most adorable part -- the three tipsy American girls group-hugged one of the French women they had gotten to know during the parade, saying, "Bye! Bye! We'll see ya in Paris!"