I don’t circle March 17 on my calendar each year. Not that I don’t like St. Patrick’s Day, I just don’t get too overly excited about it. In the past I have celebrated it during some years while during others I have treated it just like any other day. This year? With it on a Monday I might wear a polo that has green on it to work and call it good.
However I do tend to adhere to the cliché that goes “try everything once” and that was the mantra I used two years ago when I visited Butte, MT for St. Patrick’s Day. For my non-Montana readers: The Butte St. Patty’s Day celebration is to the state of Montana what the New Orleans Mardis Gras celebration is to the state of Louisiana. Of course the Montana function is much smaller but based on festive spirits, shenanigans, and liberal street laws it matches up very well. Normally I wouldn’t have much interest attending such a free-for-all but since the holiday fell on a Saturday and I had friends going over I went along for the experience.
Sad to say probably the thing that I think of most when reminiscing about that day was the weather. It rained most of the time as dark clouds hung over the town the whole day. The second thing I think of most were the costumes. People dressed for the occasion much to my enjoyment. You had leprechauns, green mascots, green body suits, people decked in green body paint, and any other wild green outfit you could think of. My friend dressed in a green Statue of Liberty costume. I even donned a special St. Pat’s Day wardrobe.
As for the reputation the celebration has I would consider it pretty accurate. It is a rather wild time with lots of people. Vendors selling food and knick-knacks (such as green beads, sunglasses, bandanas) line the streets. Tents are set up and areas of pavement are roped off to accommodate makeshift dance floors and outdoor bars. The St. Patrick’s Day spirit runs rampant. Some people completely overdo it. With as many as 10,000 non-residents converging on the area the town of Butte definitely enjoys its yearly shining moment.
If you asked me for a recommendation on whether you needed to experience St. Patrick’s Day in Butte I would say no. I had an interesting time but I wouldn’t say I had a great time. If you are a college student and want to let loose in a town you might never go to otherwise I would probably say take it or leave it. But for all of us other people I just don’t see a real point. My idea of a perfect St. Pat’s Day is sitting down at one of Missoula’s two great Irish restaurants and eating a warm dinner….not traveling two hours to stand outside in bad weather while eating vendor food and putting up with overly intoxicated people. I guess it all comes down to personal preference.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all! If you choose to celebrate have fun but be safe. To be honest I am going to enjoy when the day is over because