BUTTE – St. Patrick’s Day in Butte is a great time for a party, but there was a time in the mid-2000s when that party got a wee bit out of control – especially for the police.
“We had beer bottles thrown at us, we had beer cans, it was just chaos there for a few years,” said Butte Undersheriff George Skuletich.
In 2003 and 2004 the streets were flooded with drunken revelers. Many remember one man climbing to the roof of the M&M and then relieving himself on the crowd below.
“(There were) Some instances where cop cars were almost tipped over, people walking on top of buildings, urinating off signs,” said Skuletich.
In 2005, police stepped up security through grants to increase its manpower and more than doubled the police presence on the streets during the celebration. This made a big difference.
“Four to five officers on every corner, people are more likely not to break a window, throw beer cans at other people or start a fight,” said Skuletich.
Police also cracked down on underage drinking and bars agreed to close earlier to help clear the streets.
“You were having Missoula and Bozeman and all the colleges on spring break and they were going ‘let’s go to Butte it’s lawless over there we can do whatever the hell they want,’” said Maloney’s co-owner Gene Riordan.
In recent years police have reported fewer arrests, fewer incidents of vandalism and most people find the St. Patrick’s Day celebration here in Butte a good thing.
“Hopefully the sun’s going to come out and we’re going to have a really nice holiday. It’s a good bump for Butte, Montana, and we should embrace it,” said Riordan.
Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News