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[VIDEO] Annual St. Pat’s Senior Ball Held In Kansas City

St. Patrick's Day is a cultural and religious holiday that takes place every March 17 – and it’s been embraced widely in America by descendants of Irish immigrants. Kansas City's celebration began early this year with the annual St. Pat’s Senior Ball. This year's St. Pat's Senior Ball, on March 14 at the Cristo Rey Kansas City High School, in Kansas City, Missouri featured Dublin-born folk singerEddie Delahunt.

Being Irish in Kansas City - and Irish for a day 

Interview highlights:

“I'm here for the St. Pat’s Senior Ball, the yearly event. I don't know how many years it's been, but it's since old Pat (O’Neill), Sr. died," said musician Eddie Delahunt, who first came to Kansas City in 1989 to play at Harling's. "He was a good mentor to me, so I'm happy to be here for that. This (“The Wild Colonial Boy,” a traditional Irish–Australian ballad) was his favorite song."

"I am here on St. Patrick's Day. I am not Irish, but I feel Irish. You can see even my shirt is Irish, colored Irish-green, and I love to dance with whoever will dance with me," said Ernie Lima.

"You wanna know what it's like to be an Irish dancer around St. Patrick's Day? It's very busy, because you have to go to a lot of performances around St. Patrick's Day, because it's like, some people call it the Irish month, which it kind of is," said Jami Morris, 8, an Irish dancer.

"My mother was a McGrath; I've lived in Kansas City since 1980 and it is a joy to be Irish in Kansas City," said Rita Pearce, a volunteer at St. Pat’s Senior Ball.

"I'm a transplanted Rhode Islander to Kansas City," said Kevin Regan, a bagpiper at St. Pat’s Senior Ball. "I've been living here since 1969, and I love St. Patrick's Day in Kansas City. It's a time for families to come together to celebrate each other, our heritage, our music, our food, our religious heritage, and our culture."

"What it's like to be an Irish dancer on St. Patrick's Day is very, very busy," Irish dancer Katie Morris, 12, said. "We have to go to a lot of performances, and it gets really, really hot in these dresses."

"We immigrated here, we're fifth-generation Irish," said Terry O'Neill, one of the O'Neill brothers organizing the event. "We love being part of the Irish community. It's a great group of people. Everybody has a great time. We invite everybody to Irish on St. Patrick's Day, week. We call it St. Patrick's month, and everybody has a great time. It's a community that just never stops partying."

"It's amazing the amount of people that come together and even if there's a tiny bit of Irish in them, it comes out this season, and that's the reason I love being here around this time. It's my season too," singer Eddie Delahunt said.  

The annual St. Pat’s Senior Ball is sponsored by the seven O’Neill brothers and their families and friends in memory of Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade co-founder Pat O’Neill, Sr., who passed away in 1999.

In celebration of  St. Patrick's Day, musician Eddie Delahunt will play on Friday, March 15 at 8:30 pm at Knuckleheads, 2715 Rochester Street, Kansas City, Missouri. (816) 483-1456. Sunday, March 17 from 1 pm - 9 pm at O'Dowd's Little Dublin, 4742 Pennsylvania Ave, Kansas City, Missouri. (816) 561-2700.

Julie Denesha is the arts reporter for KCUR. Contact her at julie@kcur.org.
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