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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
September 29, 2023

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Holiday is more than partying

You have to love St. Patrick’s Day.

It’s a great day to be Irish, or pretend to be Irish. Green everything is welcomed amid winter’s gray chill.

And what other holiday encourages mass consumption of tinted alcohol? Despite its religious observation in Ireland, to most people in the U.S., March 17 is about one thing: partying.

To me, for seven years, St. Paddy’s Day was about one thing: dancing.

It is the busiest day of the year for Irish dancers, followed by the rest of the month.

Most of the dancers in my Dayton-based studio turned out to perform for at least most of the day. We’d start early in the morning and go until after midnight.

We danced in bars, restaurants, schools, hospitals, nursing homes and centers helping adults with developmental disabilities.

We danced the same show all day, but it never got boring because our audiences were so varied. I was amazed that they were impressed by steps my teammates and I had known forever, traditional steps we do in competition like reels, jigs and hornpipes. It was a nice break from the pressure of adjudicators.

Some of the young patients at Dayton Children’s couldn’t be out of their beds, so we danced in their doorways, taking turns.

I’ll never forget the beautiful little girl who had lost her hair in chemotherapy, and skipped out of her room to see us. “When I grow up, I’m going to be just like you,” she said.

I won’t lie: the rowdy pub crowds were a blast. But especially as I got older, it was more satisfying to witness the happiness and excitement more up close and personal.

It was almost magical, and I saw it in the residents at the nursing homes as they clapped their hands and jumped around to the music, in and out of wheelchairs.

I saw it in the tired faces of hospital staff, and in the employees at the local center for developmentally disabled adults, who always joined us for a dance or two.

It was humbling to be able to bring so much joy to so many people.

It’s usually tough to say what secular holidays mean to me, but not this time. St. Patrick’s Day meant using my talents to make people smile.

I haven’t had the chance to perform much in the past two years, but I have memories and pictures, enduring friendships and the abiding gratitude that I had such an opportunity.

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