I could hear the music blaring from the speakers from the lawn of Mike O'Brien's Temple Street house and a grin erupted from ear to ear - as I was steps away from the Fourth Annual Shamrock Shootout.
A childlike feeling grabbed a hold of me, like the evening before a 9-year-old's birthday, and I thought to myself, "I wish there was something like the Shamrock Shootout in my neighborhood when I was growing up."
Surely my neighborhood had fathers like dyed in the wool Bostonians Mike O'Brien and Mark Sanders, the two dads who run the youth street hockey tournament. Although both men point out that without the 80+ volunteers, and of course - the wives - the Shootout would not take place.
This year O'Brien said approximately 400 kids from ages 5 to 12 played on makeshift street hockey rinks as parents, residents, friends and dogs lined the street to watch the games and socialize. The kids competed on teams like the Nutty Irishmen and the Dubliners. Sanders suggested it was the luck of the Irish that provided such a beautiful day, especially after such a horrible winter.
I didn't even play hockey that much growing up, but it still would've been awesome to participate in an all-day street hockey tournament complete with a Nona's ice cream truck, dyed-green hair, and speakers pumping out music that gets Kevin Garnett amped.
As I made my way up the street I stopped and greeted residents, kids, dogs and met sisters Eileen Fitzpatrick (who stayed up until 3 a.m. making cupcakes for the Shootout) and Mary O'Brien, who were distributing the cupcakes.
Said Eileen, "This is such a great event every year. It's great to see the kids all out on this beautiful day. They'll remember this when they've got kids and pass it along to them."
Smiling seas of children were running everywhere, like Cormac Mullen, 8, who got his head painted green by his friend Salvatore's mom, Dana Malone. The boys had been on the Harps team, and had moved onto things like ice cream judging by Salvatore's face.
Twins Kevin and Ava Pumphret, 7, were on the same team, and Kevin said he liked playing goalie. No word on whether Catholic Memorial scouts were watching.
I also met Bonnie the Dog, and her friend Katie Buxton, 5. Bonnie was in a timeout because she liked chasing the tennis balls being used as pucks. She had claimed a couple of balls - but because she hadn't paid the fee to sign up for the tourney, she was disqualified as a goalie.
As teams changed up sides I spoke with Dan Adams, of the Emerald Society of the Boston Police, who was selling t-shirts to raise funds to lay a memorial stone for Bernard "Barney" McGinniskin, the first Irish-born Boston Police officer. The stone will be laid in May, for the officer who was appointed in 1851.
As I grabbed a water that was probably donated by one of the many sponsors, including politicians City Councilors John Connolly and Matt O'Malley, as well as State Rep. Ed Coppinger, I really started to appreciate the social aspect of the Shootout.
I chatted up with parents who I've met through the years and asked them how everything was going. I asked about how their children were doing - and what school were they in now, or headed to in the future.
I met several people who I've only emailed with, and it was great to put a face to the voice or email (but I must admit I'm horrible at remembering people - I would not make a good politician).
The annual Shamrock Shootout has really become an incredible West Roxbury event and as John Fitzgerald of ParkwayBoston.com pointed out to me - it's not just West Roxbury residents. It's folks who moved out to Norwood and Canton, who come back to Temple Street to socialize with old friends.
So how about an adult Shamrock Shootout?! I asked Mark Sanders, co-organizer and co-founder, about that possibility.
Said Sanders, "The little kids are better behaved than the big ones."
Oh well, I guess I'll wait to have kids to get an Ertischek on a Shamrock Shootout team.