By Alex Lambert

Algonquin College Journalism Intern Student

  Dacre — Under a near-constant cover of clouds and rain, the annual St. Paddy’s Party was such a success that the Dacre and Area Community Centre (DACA) surpassed its maximum capacity and had to stop letting people in for only the second time ever in the event’s 40-year history.

  Sandra Chippior, chair of the organizing committee, said the event is her way of giving back. According to her, this party is unique to other St. Patrick’s events because it appeals to families instead of solely adults. She finds joy in bringing families together for a good time, adding getting younger attendees involved keeps the tradition alive for future generations.

  “St. Paddy’s is my favourite time of year,” Ms. Chippior admitted. “For us it’s more than just a day. I really enjoy working in this community. Most of the old organizers, they’ve all got parts in it.

“Everybody who volunteers is so dedicated and it’s amazing. They’re so giving of their time, the kitchen staff, the bar staff. Every year they just automatically come volunteer their time,” she continued. “You live in a community like that, you know you’re living right.”

 DACAs biggest fundraiser of the year, “Take Er’ to Dacre,” attracted visitors of all ages for some stepdancing and sham-rockin on a dreary Saturday afternoon. Nestled at the foothills of Mt. St. Patrick, the Dacre community assembled for an afternoon of music, camaraderie and merrymaking on March 9, with plans already underway for a repeat next year.

  The event featured performances from well-known Celtic acts, including The Ryans, Terri-Lynn Mahusky and Louis Schryer in a group show, along with The Town Pants and The Fiddleairs joined by Kyle McKey.

  DACA Director Mike Quilty says it’s a good sign to see younger community members joining in the performances, like The Fiddleairs and step dancers.

“There’s always new people coming into the system. It’s always interesting to see who’s going to be performing this year,” he said.

  Given that DACA doesn’t receive external funding, bootstrapping was the only option for organizing such an event. Despite the scale of the event, they are an entirely volunteer-run non-profit organization. Since it relies heavily on community support, the Centre does a lot of fundraising beforehand to bring it together.

  According to President Lynn Gavin, the Dacre community is all one big family. She noted the absence of long-time DACA Centre President Linda Ryan, who passed away after a battle with cancer. She expressed in a heartfelt sentiment, “we’re really missing her and all the other volunteers over the years.”

  After its cancellation for three consecutive years during the COVID-19 pandemic and its successful revival last year, it’s clear to the DACA volunteers the event is here to stay. Preparations for next year’s party commence immediately the next day since they raise funds all year to host an event of this scale. Aside from an entire year spent saving up, volunteers dedicate three days to cooking and decorating before the party.

  The event typically lands a week or so before St. Patrick’s Day since it’s a nice warm-up for the more adult-centric parties over the next weekend.