Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Green Beer, Basketball and Blizzards

Friday is St. Patrick's Day. For many people, it's about green beer, and maybe some corned beef and cabbage. But if you've lived in Madison for any length of time, you know St. Patrick's Day is also about basketball and blizzards.

The WIAA State Basketball Championships are in Madison this weekend, so State Street will be full of kids in letter jackets who aren't old enought to drink. Remember when you could drink beer at 18 and more than a few high school seniors saw tournaments weekend as an opportunity to come to Madison and get sloshed? And since tournaments always seem to fall on or near St. Patrick's Day, they could get sloshed on green beer.

Even if your team wasn't in the finals, if you lived in Madison in the early 1960s, tournament weekend was great fun. I recall huge dances at the Memorial Union, supposedly for visiting students, but often crashed by Madison high school students (the university students were on spring break, the lucky ones in Fort Lauderdale, trying to live their own version of "Where the Boys Are") . Perhaps your family housed some of the out-of-town visitors. Sometimes it was a good way to meet people. Sometimes you ended up with some real duds; you told them what bus to take to the Fieldhouse and then ditched them as soon as possible.

The other thing about St. Patrick's Day and state tournament weekend is that too often they bring the last big snow storm of the year. Tonight's weather reports predict snow should begin falling around midnight on Wednesday. Four to six inches may fall by Thursday morning. Perhaps that's why Madison held its St. Patrick's Day parade on Sunday, March 12th -- a little early, but definitely ahead of the snow.

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