St. Pat’s Rolla – Get Your Green On!

The St. Pat's Parade is part of the fun at the annual holiday celebration in Rolla.

The 103rd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, one of the oldest and most celebrated St. Pat’s Parades in the state of Missouri, will be held 11 a.m. Saturday, March 12, on Pine Street in downtown Rolla.

Immediately following the parade, the 103rd Annual Best Ever St. Pat’s Concert will feature the band “Reel Big Fish,” at the Rolla Downtown Bandshell, which is located at the corner of 9th and Oak Streets near the railroad tracks. The concert is free and open to the public, and food and drinks will be available for purchase.

Street painting is a popular part of the annual St. Pat's Parade in Rolla.

One unusual aspect of the St. Pat’s Parade is that the surface of Pine Street is actually painted green beginning at 6:30 a.m. the day of the parade. The St. Pat’s Street Painting Event, sponsored by the St. Pat’s Board, includes the volunteer services of several students from Missouri S&T who apply the water-based green paint with large mops and buckets so Pine Street properly is painted green for the parade later that morning at 11 a.m.

The tradition of St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated in Rolla for more than a century. St. Patrick, the patron saint of engineers, marked his first Rolla celebration in 1908 on what was then the Missouri School of Mines campus. Engineers rallied around St. Pat and began what is now one of the most noted and oldest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the nation.

This snapshot from 1908 shows part of the first St. Pat's event in Rolla.

Legend has it that a group of students proclaimed the holiday on the Saturday preceding St Patrick’s Day and arranged for the entire student body to celebrate at the train yard instead of attending classes.  Angry faculty demanded that MSM director, Dr. Lewis Young, punish the students, who were then warned by Dr. Young’s secretary, Alice Long. This led to a famous confrontation on the steps of Norwood Hall.  George Menafee, the first student Saint Patrick, persuaded Dr. Young to kneel and be knighted as the first Knight of Saint Patrick, and, by loudly proclaiming that Saint Patrick was the patron saint of Engineers, convinced the faculty to relent and join the celebration.

The students of Missouri S&T have been celebrating “the Best Ever Saint Pat’s” ever since. This year will be the 103rd time a student Saint Patrick arrives at the train yard (now the Rolla Bandshell Park) to be welcomed by the mayor and other dignitaries and to proclaim several days of celebration in honor of their patron saint. For more information regarding the St. Pat’s Parade and related events and festivities, please visit the St. Pat’s Board homepage online at http://stpats.mst.edu/events.

Submitted by Aimee Campbell, tourism director for the Rolla Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center.