March 16, 2018

Irish Dance Club organizes St. Patrick's Day event

By Shelby Liddle

   St. John Fisher’s second annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration drew a crowd with traditional Irish food, dancing, and music. Oh, and of course free shamrock shakes.
    The celebration was sponsored by Fisher’s own Irish Dance Club. The club performed 10 step dances, most of which were choreographed by the club and advisor Benjamin Hockenberry.
   A crowd gathered around to watch the dancers as they stepped and kicked across the stage during several group dances.
  “I couldn’t believe they were a Fisher club!” exclaimed Hana Cheasman, an attendee, and student. “They were amazing!”
   In a true Irish spirit, the crowd joined in on several of the songs and clapped along with the folk music in support of the club.  
    Maggie Rustowicz, president of the Irish Dance Club, has been dancing for 17 years. She started at only 4 years old “It’s kind of a family tradition. My older sister dances and that’s why I started.”
  Several other members of Rustowicz family are also dancers, and they have even been to the world championships.
   “Everyone's Irish on St. Patrick’s Day” Rustowicz laughed, “My favorite part of St. Patrick’s Day is the joy that comes along with it, everyone’s so happy.”  
    During one song the dance team was accompanied by their advisor, and college librarian, Hockenberry who plays traditional Irish folk music on his four string banjo.

    The music and dance is Hockenberry’s favorite part of St. Patrick’s Day. He wishes more people knew how rich their folk music is and its ability to bring people together not only in Irish cultures but all over the world.   Although he could do without the green beer and beaded necklaces, Hockenberry still thinks it’s a great way to get more people to celebrate and has helped bring the holiday to where it is today.

   St. John Fisher also has its own tribute to Ireland on campus. Near the center of campus is a monument in remembrance of The Great Hunger, a potato famine that killed over 1 million people in Ireland over four years in the 1800’s.Hockenberry says that while celebrating all types of culture is

important, he finds celebrating Irish culture particularly significant because for a long time Irish people were seen as a minority in America and not treated equally.  

    “St. Patrick’s Day allows Irish-Americans to celebrate both their heritage and their impact on our country,” he said.  

   During breaks between songs the host, Rustowicz, told the audience interesting facts about Irish culture, including why dancers keep their hands down by their sides and why Irish dancers traditionally wear curly wigs. 

    The event included a cookie decorating station complete with green frosting and sprinkles, and while in line for shamrock shakes attendees received beaded necklaces, so no one had to go without a little green.

Video report by Hana Cheasman

The items on this page were completed as class assignments for a St. John Fisher College journalism class