St. Patrick lived roughly 1,600 years ago and historians will tell you he wasn’t really Irish – he was probably Welsh. Legend has it that he was kidnapped as a teenager by pirates and taken to Ireland, where he was enslaved. He escaped and eventually became the patron saint of Ireland. (After becoming a Bishop, he went back to Ireland and ultimately died there.) He was never an engineer and there haven’t been snakes in Ireland since before the last ice age.
You see, there is a big difference between St. Patrick and St. Pat.
Missouri University of Science and Technology started celebrating St. Pat near the beginning of the 20th century, when a group of Rolla students decided that he was the patron saint of engineers.
Currently, Missouri S&T students are preparing for the 101st St. Pat’s celebration in Rolla. The students have been busy growing out beards, planning surprise attacks on imaginary snakes, organizing Gonzo Games, and picking a Queen of Love and Beauty.
The festivities culminate on March 14 with a parade down Rolla’s Pine Street, which is always painted green to mark the occasion.
The schedule for the 101st annual St. Pat’s celebration at Missouri S&T is as follows:
– Monday, March 2, through Wednesday, March 4: Snake Invasion (students club “snakes” with large decorative sticks called shillelaghs).
– Saturday, March 7: Shamrock 5K Run, 9 a.m. at The Centre, located at 1200 Holloway Rd., Rolla.
– Monday, March 9: St. Pat’s Follies, noon at the Puck, a campus landmark located in front of Toomey Hall.
– Tuesday, March 10: St. Pat’s Follies, noon at the Puck.
– Wednesday, March 11: At approximately 11:15 a.m., St. Pat, portrayed by a Missouri S&T student, and his court, will arrive in downtown Rolla aboard the traditional manure spreader. They will proceed from the south end of Pine Street to the band shell for St. Pat’s Follies at noon.
– Thursday, March 12: Gonzo Games, 11 a.m. at S&T’s Intramural Recreation Center; Longest Beard Contest, 5 p.m. at Dave’s Barbershop on Pine Street; Store Decoration Contest, 10 a.m. to noon in local stores, contact the Rolla Chamber of Commerce at 573-364-3577 or Central Federal Savings and Loan at 573-364-1024 to enter.
– Friday, March 13: More Gonzo Games, 11 a.m. at the Intramural Recreation Center; Coronation and Knighting Ceremony, 9 p.m. at Leach Theatre in Castleman Hall on the S&T campus.
– Saturday, March 14: Pine Street painting, 6:30 a.m.; St. Pat’s Parade, 11 a.m., Clydesdale Look-a-Like Contest, held during the parade; Grateful Board Celebration, 12:30 p.m. at the band shell; Unveiling of St. Pat’s statue, 2 p.m. at Toomey Hall on campus; St. Pat’s Concert, featuring Puddle of Mudd and Shinedown, 5:30 p.m. at the Gale-Bullman Multi-Purpose Center; St. Patrick’s Grand Ball, 6 p.m. at the Havener Center on campus.