I'm often amused at the traditions that some folks uphold on St. Patrick's Day. My family and friends, for example, go out to eat at an Italian restaurant. Same venue, same day, same time. Every year. We've been doing it since I was a little kid.

A friend of mine will listen only to The Pogues, U2, Van Morrison and Thin Lizzy on March 17. No Beatles, no Stones, no Zep, no Who. Just the Irish bands. (I've never mentioned to him that three-quarters of Thin Lizzy were not Irish. But whatever.)

And then there is the corned-beef-and-cabbage crowd. That is one tradition I will never engage in. I would rather chow camel spiders with Bear Grylls than eat that horrid stuff.

Most St. Patrick's Day traditions, though, revolve around distilled spirits, goofy cardboard hats and green sweaters. The Irish love a good time and when two or more Hibernians gather in a room with a few cocktails, the only thing they can agree on is having a good time.

Charitable events succeed when everyone has a good time. Haverhill has its share of excellent charitable organizations and one of my favorites will soon have its annual party.

It is, in the simplest terms, a good time.

The Shamrock Associates Scholarship Fund Raffle takes place on Thursday, March 26, from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Crescent Yacht Club in Bradford. There will be 44 drawings and 60 prizes — gift certificates, tickets, books and all sorts of stuff. Even ducats to a game in the new Yankee Stadium.

Music (Danielle Doherty), food (thanks to Maria's Family Restaurant) and — every Irishman is about to cheer — drink will be plentiful.

The generosity of area residents has kept this fundraiser viable for a long time. Their contributions allow students to realize their dreams and fulfill their goals.

In the last 25 years, the organization has given nearly $130,000 to about 200 students. The scholarships are awarded to recent high school graduates from middle-income families. Obviously, as higher education costs continue to soar, many Haverhill college-bound kids could use the help.

Each day, it seems, another begging letter is dropped in my mailbox. My wife and I give to some of these charities, ignore others and casually aid a few more. I have no idea what happens after they get our check, though.

And that is the main reason the Shamrock Associates should be supported. The dough goes to Haverhill teenagers who live on your street, work in local stores and play on high school teams. You see them every day.

The organizers volunteer their time and effort in an attempt to keep costs low and donations high. To date, they've done a fine job.

If you're interested in picking up raffle tickets, stop by and see my former Pentucket teammate Ari Pardales at his joint (Ari's Pizza, Subs & Ice Cream) in Bradford, or call Sandra Bernstein at 978-374-6029.


Mike Ryan is the former sports editor of The Haverhill Gazette. He can be reached at info@luckyclean1.com.

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