Patty Ungaretti's father "loved to sing and a lot of the songs were Irish songs," she said this week. But one stood out, in particular: "The Irish Washerwoman."
"That was my favorite song," Ungaretti said.
And as fate would have it, Ungaretti was one of the original members of Anaconda's Irish Washer Women’s Brigade, the local Ladies’ Ancient Order of Hibernians marching group.
Since the brigade was founded some 30 years ago, Ungaretti has marched with them year in and year out. But this year she'll have a new role in Anaconda's St. Patrick's Day Parade: grand marshal.
When the parade kicks off Saturday at 2 p.m., she'll be serving in that role — as will Ray Ryan, a member of the local men's AOH and center director of the Anaconda Job Corps.
Ryan has deep connections to the parade and to the Hibernians, too, he said this week.
“It’s generational," he said. "My parents were both members of the Hibernians and my grandparents and my great-grandparents.”
Ryan himself has belonged to the group for 42 years, he said.
Though the native of Anaconda left town for some 30 years, Ryan said he made a point to come back and participate "every year" in Anaconda's annual St. Patrick's day run and, if possible, parade.
Both Ungaretti and Ryan said they view being elected by their fellow Hibernians to serve as grand marshal as an honor.
"This organization has meant a lot to me over the years," Ungaretti said. "I’ve learned so much about my heritage. I’ve been to Ireland. It’s just a big part of my life.”
Ryan said he was "surprised" to be chosen. "But I was humbled and very honored to be selected,” he added.
And they both say they look forward to seeing friends and family.
“St. Patrick’s Day is pretty big here in Anaconda," Ryan said. "You pretty much run into everybody. Everybody in town is out. … It's a good opportunity to catch up to people after a long winter.”