This St. Patrick's Day weekend is the time of year when all of us become Irish, even people with Germanic surnames like mine -- except that in this national melting pot, it's possible for an Eisen also to be a Prendergast with roots in County Cork and a Burke with other roots on an island washed by the Irish Sea.
Which brings Metro Scene to a point of community chauvinism. Washington's St. Patrick's Day parade along Constitution Avenue on Sunday will be, the parade chairman contends, a better and more interesting event than the much-publicized and overpoliticized parade up New York's Fifth Avenue on Monday, the actual feast day of the saint.
New York's parade, said Chairman Matthew Hannon of Rockville, is a turnout of fraternal and parochial school groups marching without floats or novelties. But Washington's will feature 14 floats in addition to an estimated 10,000 marchers. "We want to make it interesting to kids and families," Hannon said.
We're tempted to say that the nation's No. 1 Irish pol will be the parade marshal but, given the ancestry of the president, we'll drop back to say the nation's most Irish-looking pol will have that role: House Speaker Tip O'Neill.
And in the reviewing stand on Constitution Avenue across from the Washington Monument will be the Irish republic's taoiseach -- that's Gaelic for prime minister -- Garrett Fitzgerald, here on a private visit, flanked by Ambassador Padraic MacKernon.
Although political partisans in the Ulster dispute participate in the parade, Hannon said, they join with the parade sponsors in maintaining decorum. "They create no problem," said Hannon, a food broker and the Massachusetts-born son of Irish immigrants.
Wear green (or orange if you dare) and pick out a spot on Constitution Avenue west of Seventh Street NW. The parade starts at 1 p.m. Sunday and should last 2 1/2 hours.