By Emily Younker
JOPLIN, Mo. —
St. Patrick’s Day came to Joplin one day early this year.
Residents celebrated the holiday on Saturday with a 12-block parade along Main Street, a daylong festival with children’s activities and live music, an outdoor beer garden and a five-kilometer run in the morning. Many who turned out for the events were dressed appropriately in shades of green, and a few wore full Irish-themed costumes.
Christy Zuroweste, of Joplin, ran the 5K race — her first — dressed in a green tennis skirt, green vest and a bright green wig.
“I just thought since I’m not very fast, I’d look silly, so that was my strategy — to look silly,” she said. “I think it (the race) was pretty good. It was hard; it was only my fourth time running, but I’m curious to see how I did in my age group.”
Her boyfriend, Shaun Steele, of Joplin, was also in full costume as a leprechaun, wearing green shorts, a green velvety jacket, a green top hat and fake orange eyebrows.
“You can call me Lepre-Shaun,” he said.
Steele said his outfit made the run a little hot, but other runners and spectators admired it, asking him to pose for pictures.
“I picked this up to be festive for the race; since I’m not that fast anymore, I have to be festive,” he said.
Alice Girton, of Webb City, ran in the race to celebrate her birthday, which also was on Saturday. Appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day, she tied a green ribbon in her hair and wore green plaid knee-high socks and a handmade green tutu over her running clothes.
“Because it is my birthday, I had to choose something wild and crazy,” she said of her outfit. “It (the race) was awesome. It was great to see everybody dressed up and to see the support.”
Jerry Reinke, of Joplin, turned out for the parade wearing a bright orange wig, a green top hat, green eyeglasses and a shamrock necklace. Reinke, who had even colored his goatee orange with hairspray, said he put together his costume from a box of St. Patrick’s-themed items he has collected over the years.
“I’m glad that Joplin has this because it’s fun,” he said as he waited with his family for the parade to begin. “Joplin’s a big town; we should do a lot more of these kinds of things.”
The parade’s grand marshals were Patrick Murphy, a founder of Joplin who gave his name to the historic Murphysburg neighborhood, and his wife. They were portrayed by local actors Brayden Provins and Flannery Gafken, who were dressed in the Victorian-era clothing that the Murphys would have worn in the late 19th century.
“It was really fun,” Provins said. “Everyone waved and seemed like they had a good time and were into it.”
The theme for Joplin’s St. Patrick’s Day events, presented by Way Beyond Events, was “Be Green: Inspiring Our Community” and focused on raising awareness of recycling and encouraging the use of recyclable materials.