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By James MacDonald The Shamrock Shootout Is A Celebration Of Hockey And Heritage In West Roxbury, Mass., Neighborhood I t's a brisk Saturday morning in mid-March as the KissMe-I'm-Irish holiday celebration starts early as parents, grandparents and neighbors, decked out in their cable knit sweaters and tweed caps, gather along T emple Street in West Roxbury, Mass., not far from downtown Boston. Green is the color of the day, as youngsters wearing Celtics jerseys and Ireland soccer jerseys mill about the crowd, swatting at green, white and orange balloons that hang from light posts above. Irish flags proudly fly on neighborhood porches. The Dropkick Murphys' "I'm Shipping Up To Boston" blares from speakers in front of Mike O'Brien's house, which serves as the epicenter of the action. "Look at this, look at this," says O'Brien, motioning beyond his front yard. "Look at the smiles on their faces. It's amazing." Spanning the length of nearly 50 houses, street hockey rinks, each with shamrocks painted at center "ice," buzz with the choir of Photos By Paul Treseler kids simply playing and having fun. Picture a parade, only without the inconvenience of it going anywhere. If it weren't so authentic, this grassroots sliver of Americana – wrapped in green, white and orange – might have been considered too good to be true. The Shamrock Shootout has once again taken over as the emotional heart of West Roxbury, an already tight-knit section of a city that loves its Irish heritage and its hockey. What started out with 100 kids just six years ago has swelled to a record number of participants this year, 550 kids, playing on 20 rinks. The event sign-up, which is held at a nearby pub and restaurant to accommodate the overflow crowds, features lines around the block as 520 spots are filled in 15 minutes. "It's probably the biggest day in West Roxbury," says Anne-Marie Russell, who had all four of her children, twin 12-year-olds, a 9-yearold girl and a 6-year-old boy, playing. "It's exciting. This is when USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM August. 2013 27

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