As many Montanans know, St Patrick's Day in Butte is a big deal. A REALLY BIG DEAL. Half of town is closed, thousands of people show up, there's food and music and entertainment, and for a while, Butte is transformed into Little Ireland. I'm blessed enough to have a third-generation Irish roommate, and the smell of corned beef, cabbage, and soda bread filled our apartment for a full day before St Pat's. It was like Christmas, if Christmas was celebrating the banishment of snakes from Ireland.

But holidays like this one are more of a spectator sport for me. As a prodigious people-watcher, slipping into a crowd and observing brings me more fun than anything. I met friends. I made new ones. It seemed to me that behind my town's reputation for throwing a great party sits the magic of Butte: the way our community brings all kinds of people together. My friends are a hodge-podge of transplants from all over the country. None of them do exactly the same thing or have the same interests, and the grand majority of us didn't even know each other three months ago. The flood of people into my weird mountain city gave everyone opportunities to be creative, to give to local causes, to be active politically, to branch out, and for one long day, everyone was a Buttian.

I spent a lot of the day handing out information for Butte AIDS Support Services and more than a couple times I sidled up next to a new friend and told them how important Share Our Strength's work is in this community. I grab at any chance to show Butte off to the world, and I'm excited to see all the opportunities the warm weather will bring.

Haley McKnight
Montana No Kid Hungry-PRC AmeriCorps VISTA
Butte, MT