SAUGUS — Bill Buchan mingled and danced with his friends, clad in his top hat, fake red beard, and green beads at the Saugus Senior Center.
“I’m not even Irish,” said Buchan. “I’m a Scotsman. But if the Irish want to celebrate, why not join them?”
Every year, Buchan spends three days at the Highland Games at Loon Mountain, where more than 100,000 people gather to listen to bagpipes. His favorite act is by the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, he said.
He wasn’t the only one getting into the Irish spirit.
Joanne Olsen, director of the senior center, estimated 160 people were packed into the facility’s dining room wearing green and feasting on corned beef and cabbage Thursday afternoon. Cars filled the parking lot and lined the surrounding side streets.
“People are climbing over snow banks to get here,” she said. “I can’t believe it.”
Ruthie Berg of Saugus wasn’t surprised. She and a table full of her cousins from Revere follow around DJ Alan LaBella, who had the crowd up, dancing and singing. She called herself a LaBella groupie.
“It’s all about the fun,” said Berg. “When the fun is gone, I’m out of here.”
Shirley Bogdan of Saugus has attended lunch at the center almost every day of the week for the past 25 years.
“My husband has passed so this gives me people to talk to and gets me out of the house,” she said. “I don’t have to sit at home and stare at my walls all day. It’s too bad a lot of seniors in town won’t come because they think it’s only for old people. I’m not old.”
She enjoys all the special celebrations held at the senior center, but admitted St. Patrick’s Day was one of the best.
“I’m French and Welch, but today, isn’t everybody Irish?”