Why St. Patty's is Such a Party

Since the first U.S. celebration 268 years ago, St. Patty's Day has gone from a religious holiday to an excuse for people to party.

Whether it's the music, the Guinness, the costumes, the Guinness, the corned beef, or the Guinness, March 17 is a day to celebrate.

"I think it's a general day of fun, everyone wants to be Irish for a day," says Becky Rodger, General Manager of Claddagh Irish Pub.

That fun took an extreme turn this year to raise money for childhood cancer research.

Meaghan Savidusky, a St. Baldrick's participant, says, "There are a lot of kids out there fighting cancer and I just wanted to show my support for them by shaving my head."

She wasn't alone. "I got extra for the 'stache' because I normally wear a hat and no one can tell if I'm bald or not," says Mazomanie firefighter Glenn Witzel, "The moustache I've had for 21 years."

St. Patty's Day has been observed for hundreds of year. We went to St. Patrick's Church to find out why the day we know is so different from its original intention.

Father Bill Seipp says, "So many things have happened that way, they have lost their original religious significance and they turn out to be occasions for parties and not so much for prayer."

An occasion thousands celebrate in their own style.

"I think people need to celebrate our heritage, our roots are important, our faith roots are important," says Seipp.

Rodger says, "I think it goes with the symbolism of a good old Irish tradition, where we drink to cheer on the dead."

"It's one of those things," says Witzel, "Everybody wants to be something different for at least one day out of the year, this is everybody's chance to be Irish for one day."

While Father Seipp says he thinks it's okay for people to celebrate their heritage, he wishes people would take it a little easy on the Guinness.

Thursday local firefighters raised $7,000 for St. Baldrick's cancer research.

That adds to the more than $7 million that's been raised on St. Patrick's Day since the organization's inception in 2000.

For more info on St. Baldrick's, go to www.stbaldricks.org.

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