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Students celebrate postponed St. Patrick’s Day

Kristen Durbin | Thursday, March 24, 2011


St. Patrick’s Day may have fallen during Notre Dame’s spring break this year, but students still managed to show their Irish spirit in celebration of the holiday Wednesday. 

On the “unofficial” St. Patrick’s Day, students embraced the opportunity to celebrate the University’s historic Irish identity by dressing in green, celebrating off campus and taking advantage of the giveaways provided by the Student Union Board (SUB) and Walsh Hall throughout the day.
SUB and Walsh distributed shamrock-shaped sunglasses and other giveaways outside DeBartolo Hall and offered a free cookout on Fieldhouse Mall, SUB cultural arts programmer Jenna Donahue said. Students who found “golden nuggets” hidden around campus won prizes including a green iPod Shuffle and gift cards to Chipotle, Five Guys and Jamba Juice.
Donahue said the main goal of planning events for this week was to unite students in a celebration of the holiday while they were on campus.
“We came up with this idea in the fall when we realized we wouldn’t be able to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day during school, so we wanted to do it right when we came back from break,” Donahue said. “Wednesday seemed like a good day for it because it breaks up the week, and more people are out and about because classes are generally shorter.”
Sophomore Erinn Riley said she enjoyed the campus festivities.
“The free giveaways were awesome, especially the sunglasses and the food,” she said.
Incidentally, the date of SUB and Walsh’s planned activities coincided with an unofficial celebration that attracted over 4,500 student attendees on Facebook.
Senior George Pinchock created the popular online event advertising a campus-wide St. Patrick’s Day celebration after returning from winter break in January.
“St. Patrick’s Day has always been a big deal in my family and in my hometown of Philadelphia,” Pinchock said. “I got the idea to have everyone celebrate on a class day when I thought about last year’s celebration and how I didn’t want to miss out on the fun because of spring break this year.”
Pinchock said celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on a day of classes added an element of thrill to the general enthusiasm for the holiday due to Notre Dame’s traditional Irish pride.
“Everyone here is naturally united around Irish things, so people get pumped up about this holiday,” Pinchock said. “You could feel the electricity in the air last year, so I wanted everyone to be able to feel that again this year.”
Pinchock began spreading the word in January to about 500 of his Notre Dame friends through the Facebook event. The event drew over 2,000 confirmed attendees within a day of its creation, he said. 
By the end of the week, 3,000 people planned to attend the event. Pinchock limited the event to current Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross students after thousands of alumni and non-Notre Dame students responded to the event invitation. 
Although Pinchock did not plan specific events for the day of the celebration, he said creating the Facebook event exposed him to a variety of different conceptions of what St. Patrick’s Day means.
“A lot of people haven’t been brought up celebrating St. Patrick’s Day like I have,” Pinchock said. “For some people, it’s just a drinking holiday, but for others, it’s something really special.”
Senior Erica Severson embraced the chance to celebrate the holiday while at school.
“I celebrated by wearing green, eating a free brat and drinking green beer,” she said. “It was a lot of fun.”
In anticipation of the “unofficial” holiday, a group of Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame students contacted the owners of Mulligan’s Bar and Grill in South Bend about the possibility of hosting a St. Patrick’s-themed event.
“A few students approached us about a month ago and asked if we would host a St. Patrick’s Day party for them after spring break,” owner Sue Mulligan said. “We love Notre Dame and its students, so after they asked us, we said, ‘Sure, why not?'”
Mulligan said the celebration was similar to the bar’s actual St. Patrick’s Day event and featured a large outdoor tent, decorations, green beer, green Jello shots and giveaways. The kitchen was also open for attendees until 2:30 a.m., Mulligan said. 
“It was a blast, just like last week’s celebration,” Mulligan said. “Everyone had a great time.”