It is said that Butte and Anaconda have more Irish per capita than any other place in the country. I would believe it.
The celebration began last weekend with a race to benefit the Ancient Order of the Hibernians - the oldest and large Irish-Catholic Organization in the United States. With over seven hundred runners and plenty of spectators, it seemed as if the entire town had donned green tutus, shamrocks, and running shoes to start the early celebrating of Saint Patrick's Day. And, despite the early time and open container law, many runners donned a can or two or beer along the way.
The streets were full of serious runners, moms with strollers, teenagers in kilts, and a handful of children in their best green apparel. For many, this race marked the start of the running season, the first thaw with Spring approaching. For our friend Michelle, the six mile run marked another step in training for the Seattle Half Marathon.
Throughout the week, members stopped in to the credit union to talk about the upcoming weekend - knowing that I wasn't a native to the area, and honestly, not a bit Irish. I learned about snakes in Ireland, and the proper ingredients for a Blarney Stone and cursed myself for being clueless about each and every one of these Saint Patrick's Day traditions.
Yesterday, the town continued to show its Irish pride with a small parade through the center of town. This time, even more spectators gathered - many wearing beads, shamrock headbands, and more green than I had ever since in one crowd.
I managed to find a shamrock adorned bow, green knee high socks and an appropriate emerald green top before the parade. At the last second, I even put green eyeliner on - the color aptly named "Dublin." Before leaving the house, I texted friends, "you better have green on! I look like a leprechaun!". Sure enough, I did look like a leprechaun but thankfully, most of town had found more green to wear than I had.
As I am to be packing our things to move to New Mexico, I sit here feeling sentimental and thankful for the town that we live in. While I know that amazing opportunities await us in Rio Rancho and Santa Fe, my heart can't help but to ache for the town that we are leaving behind. I feel blessed for the months that we got to spend here in this community, a community full of pride, love, and family. Not only will I miss the beautiful snowy mountains when we leave, but the people that have made our time here so rich.