This past St. Patrick’s day, I got the opportunity to experience Penn Station at parade time. My grandmother invited me to spend the night at her house on Long Island, so after her bridge tournament, she told me to take a 3:30 train. I made sure I had enough time to get to the station from home, and added an extra 15 minutes just in case it was as rowdy as I imagined it might be.
First, I had to deal with the LIRR in general. Since I don’t usually take trains from Penn Station, other than going to visit family on Long Island, it’s always a little bit of a challenge for me to navigate. Once I bought my ticket and checked the board to figure out which train was mine, I had time to wait.
I’ve dealt with Penn Station on holidays before, like going to my aunt’s on Halloween. Halloween was different, though, because it was crowded with parents trying to get home in time to take their kids trick-or-treating. The St. Patrick’s Day crowd was filled with rambunctious people who had a lot of energy.
As the track for the train to Oyster Bay was announced, a huge crowd of people started racing to catch it; and for a few blissful moments, it was very peaceful under the LIRR track board. My hope was that all those parade-going reverse commuters were now safely on board and bound for Oyster Bay — but no such luck. As I continued to wait for my train to be called, a new crowd began forming around me. So I bided my time, and mentally prepared to make a break for it.
As soon as my track was announced, #19, I practically flew down the stairs and onto the train. I found a seat across from a dad with his three kids (whew) and waited for the car to fill up, hoping I had chosen a seat that would be facing forward.
Lots of energetic people dressed in head-to-toe green filed on to the train. Luckily, no one too animated got on, but some mischievous leprechaun decided to hold the train door open, and the conductor had to announce over the intercom for him to let go. Four times the conductor had to repeat his request, until finally, the doors closed and off we went.
The rest of the train ride was pretty uneventful, and I was relieved that no one too rowdy was on my car. I arrived at my grandma’s house and got to enjoy spending time with her. Then we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with some homemade green pistachio cake.