Happy St. Patrick's Day! This is my favorite holiday of the year, hands down. I am part Irish, but if I hadn't grown up in Anaconda, I wouldn't have been so enthusiastic. If you haven't been to Anaconda or Butte for a St. Patrick's celebration, this article by George Everett titled "Butte, Montana: Ireland's Fifth Province" describes the history. Most people claim to have some Irish heritage, but in these 2 towns, it's the real thing and so strong that some label it Butte Irish. My Irish ancestors ended up in Kansas, not in the Montana copper mines, but luckily the Butte Irish welcome everyone, no matter your descent. I haven't been back to Montana for St. Patrick's since college but try to do my best wherever I'm living. It's not all about having a pint or two of Guinness, but celebrating Irish heritage and having a great time with music, dancing, and stories.
Growing up (to my best recollection), we celebrated for a solid week. Anaconda would kick off festivities the Saturday before the 17th with a parade, running race, and other Hibernian activities. I don't know if the town was really 75% Irish, or just pretended, but we all wore green all week looking forward to the Butte Parade. One celebrated Saint isn't enough in Butte, so on March 16th, Saint Urho is honored at the Helsinki Bar with Finn's and Irish getting into the mood for March 17th celebrations citywide for Saint Patrick. The Butte parade is on the only place to be on the morning of the 17th and then downtown becomes a gigantic party with people celebrating in every bar, restaurant, and no matter the weather, in the streets. The M&M Bar is one of the more famous and they have been provided live webcam feeds for several years. For those of us that have spent time in the M&M, especially if we were able to squeeze in the door on St. Paddy's, checking in during the day when you can't be there is one of the best ways to cure your Butte Irish homesickness.
Another way to celebrate from afar is to dress up and march in a Parade. For the past 4 years, the Montana Tech Alumni - Utah Chapter has had an entry in the SLC Parade. There are many Irish in Utah, especially with the Kennecott Copper Mine, but it is nothing like home. Our alumni enjoy the opportunity to relive Butte memories and proudly march for our college. We get strange looks from the Utah crowds, but the occasional cheers for Montana, Butte, and Diggers are worth it. This year we passed out flyers, stickers, and candy and if we can even get a few high school kids to think about attending, we've done our part. We have a small, but energetic group, and have a few chants like "Send your kids to Tech and they'll come back Engineers". This year, we marched behind a group of zombies representing a haunted house and in front of the roller derby girls. Very strange, but entertaining. We did see a few Montana fans in the crowd, including a Butte Irish couple, a Montana Tech Oredigger, and someone with a Maloney's Bar t-shirt.
|Parade Attire (minus the Green Hard Hat)|
|Butte Irish - They ran out of the crowd and gave us hugs!|
|Huge Crowds at The Gateway (Zombies doing their thing in front of us)|
|The Montana Tech Alumni at the Parade Finish|
|Europe Cycling Races via Internet|
Now we are home and waiting out the rain (too warm for snow) before deciding on tonight's plans. St. Patrick's is also the best holiday because of its March timing. It feels a bit like a delayed birthday celebration and then there are the sporting events. We are relaxing with the Milan-San Remo bicycle race on the internet and then have plenty of March Madness basketball. I guess I could just pull up the M&M feed, play Irish jigs on the stereo, and drink a pint and pretend I'm in Butte. Cheers!