Celebrating St. Pat's, Rolla-style
This weekend, I attended my second college St. Patrick's Day Celebration in two weeks. But this one was official - at the Missouri University of Science & Technology. And it was much, much different from the University of Illinois' Unofficial St. Patrick's Day.
The university also ran a blog about the festivities.
Both these sites make it pretty clear - Rolla's St. Pat's celebration is steeped in tradition. This year was the 100th ever, which made it an even bigger party than usual, I hear.
Just about everything they did - from bringing the student portraying St. Patrick to town on a manure spreader to painting the parade route green to the stunning fireworks created by students in the school's explosive program - was based on tradition. They've always done those things.
Sure, just like Unofficial, plenty of students spent the entire weekend drinking. The Post-Dispatch's article said two students have died in past years in alcohol-related incidents.
But unlike Unofficial, the weekend and customs preceding it are embraced by the entire community. Tons of alums come back for St. Pat's, and the entire town seemed to show up for Saturday's parade, decked in green.
Plus, it's about more than just seeing how green your tongue will turn from green beer or how many hours you can go without passing out.
I think Missouri S & T's celebration shows that St. Patrick's Day can be about more than just a wild weekend. Perhaps Champaign-Urbana needs to find a way to get the community involved in Unofficial St. Patrick's Day. Host a parade and paint some shamrocks on the streets and shift the focus from the how-much-can-you drink mentality.
It seems like it's at least worth a try, especially if community members can't prevent Unofficial.
Because, really, celebrating St. Patrick's Day was fun. (Maybe that's because I donned some green myself and didn't have to worry about working while keeping inebriated male college students a suitable distance from me.)
I caught green beads in the midst of a huge, cheering crowd at Rolla's parade. I spent quality time with family members, and my aunt made colcannon. Seriously, when else could I paint a lime green shamrock on my face and get away with it?
Here are a few more pictures I took at Saturday's parade: