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Students hold St. Patrick’s Day festivities

Joseph McMahon | Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick’s Day, the feast day of the patron saint of Ireland, provides millions of Irish-Americans with a time to celebrate their heritage. Over the past several decades, it has grown into a nation-wide festival, including the biggest parade in the world in New York City, where everyone is Irish, at least for the day.

At the University of Notre Dame, where students refer to themselves as the Fighting Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the biggest party days of the year. So much so, that the University often schedules Spring Break during St. Patrick’s Day.

“I always pray that [St. Patrick’s Day] is over Spring Break,” said Bill Kirk, the vice president of Residence Life and Housing, at a meeting of the Community Campus Action Coalition last month. Kirk warned the South Bend Common Council that St. Patrick’s Day is often a time when many students choose to binge drink.

However, because Easter falls so early in March this year, students are on campus for the event for the first time in three years, and many students are planning on spending the day celebrating.

Senior Vijen Patel said that he and other seniors were organizing a makeshift St. Patrick’s Day parade that would take place at 1 p.m. tomorrow.

“We’re doing a parade. We arranged a bunch of instruments, like people who used to play trumpet and instruments like that,” he said. “We’re having a little party during the day, and at 1 p.m. we’re going to proceed to campus from our house. We’re going to go through some of the classroom buildings and then heading to South Dining Hall.”

Patel said that he was inspired when he heard that his roommate’s older brother organized a parade five years ago.

“One of my roommate’s older brothers had a parade five years ago. So they gave us this idea and then we ran with it,” he said.

In addition, Patel said that a deep appreciation for parades was kindled in him by his family.

“I’ve always been fascinated with parades. My grandfather, my father, we all love parades,” he said.

Sophomore Steve Bold created the Facebook event “Official,” a parody of the University of Illinois’s “Unofficial” St. Patrick’s Day during the first week in March. So far, 839 students have joined the event, something Bold didn’t initially plan for.

“A bunch of my friends know people down at the University of Illinois and they always have that ‘Unofficial’ event every year,” he said. “A bunch of us just started it as an inside joke that here we are at Notre Dame, we’re the Fighting Irish and we’re going to be here for St. Patrick’s Day.”

He said that “Official” helps boost school spirit and provides a time for Notre Dame students to celebrate their Irish heritage.

“It’s kind of our holiday at Notre Dame considering that we are the Fighting Irish and it’s good to build some school spirit and some pride,” he said.

However, Bold warned against the heavy binge drinking that is often associated with St. Patrick’s Day.

“We were by no means encouraging people to start drinking in the middle of the day,” he said. “It was more to go out and have fun.”

Other people around campus are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day by starting some new traditions. Freshman Michael Delach said that he and his friends played a game of 16-inch softball in addition to taking part in other festivities.

“We played some 16-inch softball. It’s a Chicago sport that my buddies and I play back home – it’s just a big ball so no one has to use gloves,” he said. “We decided we’d start a St. Patty’s Day tradition and we’ll be playing every St. Patrick’s Day. We had a good time.”

Delach said that he would be taking part in festivities tonight, despite Tuesday classes.

“I’m probably going out later that night,” he said. “Monday’s aren’t usually big party night, but I know it’s going to be fun for St. Patty’s Day.”

Some students said that they celebrated the holiday on Saturday – the day the Vatican moved St. Patrick’s Day to in Ireland.

For other students, however, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day must take a backseat to school work. Freshman Anna Claire Marrone said that she would have to spend the night studying for a calculus exam and skip the festivities.

“I’ll be studying for my calc test,” Marrone said. “So, no, I won’t be going out.”