The buildup to St. Patrick’s Day has started in Montana, where the traditional Irish celebration is considered a major event. The Great Divide ski area near Helena kicked off the festivities on Friday, March 11 with the Skiing of the Leprechauns. Costumed skiers big and small hit the slopes for some spirited night skiing, all in the name of charity and fun.
How many leprechauns can you fit on one mountain at the time became the challenge as Great Divide and the Eagle Mount organization paired together to raise money for people with disabilities. Their efforts were followed up with a 3K race and parade in Helena, and celebrations throughout the area.
But wait – St. Patty’s isn’t over! Butte, Montana’s historic Irish town, is expected to kick off its celebrations on the evening of March 16 with the crowning of St. Urho (described by some as the Finnish prelude to St. Patrick’s Day). The following day, Butte is joined by Bozeman and Missoula for a day of parades, music and feasting.
Southeast of Butte, off of Highway 212, the town of Red Lodge is hosting its own St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Like Butte, the town of Red Lodge grew out of the early days of coal mining, and is now a year-round recreation and vacation destination. It’s also the gateway to the beautiful Beartooth Highway and Yellowstone National Park.
Northwest of Butte, the city of Kalispell starts its March 17 parade at 4 p.m. in downtown. We expect there will be some impressive examples of parade floats, as the chamber will be hosting a competition with an award of $100 for the best dressed affair. The temps are expected to be chilly for St. Patrick’s Day – which just means the corned beef and cabbage at the end of the festivities will taste all the better.
Thanks to Kevin Taylor at Great Divide Snowsports and Tara Ferriter-Smith for permission to include a link to her Skiing of the Leprechauns video.