A large portion of Montana families boast Irish descent and that means St. Patrick’s Day gets a little more attention here than it does in other parts of the country. Director of Irish Studies at the University of Montana Traolach Ó Ríordáin says the celebration on Saturday will begin with a very Irish Mass at 8:00 a.m at St. Francis Xavier Church.

"Irish is the oldest documented Western European language, so there are hymns going back to the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries that will be in Irish," Traolach said. "The music will be in Irish, the readings will be in Irish, but there will be translations: so it's a real unique experience using the actual language that St. Patrick used. The parade will take place at noon and the grand marshal is Christopher Behan and the Irish Man and Irish Woman of the year are John and Jodi Monahan "

The parade is put on by the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Missoula Chamber of commerce. Chamber Program Director Krista Clawson says they are looking for more parade participants.

"We would like to encourage everyone in the community to come out and support the parade, both as a float or to participate and watch the parade," Clawson said. "Entries are due Thursday, March 15th at noon, and applications are available at the Missoula Chamber of Commerce Office. We have just a hand-full right now, but we encourage everyone to attend, it should be a great weekend."

The first St.Patrick’s Day parade in Missoula was in 1980, making this the 38th annual. After the parade there will be free carousel rides at the Missoula Carousel from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.