SPRINGDALE, NL - St. Patrick's Day weekend is a time for bonding for the Butt family of Springdale.
While the 33rd annual St. Patrick's Day hockey tournament takes place at Springdale Stadium, the weekend is about much more than scoring goals for this extended family.
Jon Butt didn't grow up in Springdale. He never even lived in the community. However, every year he travels from his home in Mount Pearl to his father Brian Butt's hometown for the occasion. His brother Josh joins him on the annual excursion across the island, along with friends from Mount Pearl including Jeff Tucker, Jordan Patterson and Steve Noseworthy.
The holiday event has become even more than just about family.
Brian doesn't play on the team, but he also travels from the eastern Newfoundland city to Springdale for the special weekend.
The Butts Plus team - which took first place in the competitive division for the second year in a row - is made up of Butt relatives and friends who come onboard to make up a team.
"That's where the 'Plus' part of it comes in," Jon said of the non-relatives.
While there is always a friendly rivalry between the Butts Plus team and the teams from Springdale, he says the weekend is all about having a game of hockey and celebrating St. Patrick's Day with family and friends.
"Aunt Barb (Butt) feeds us," he said. "Uncle Mel (Melvin Butt) puts us up. Uncle Don (Butt) from Green Bay Auto Parts bought us team jerseys that we can use every year specifically for this tournament."
The family started putting a team in the tournament about six years ago. While he no longer competes with the team, Melvin is one of their main organizers. The name is used not only for hockey, he said, but for numerous get-togethers with family and friends.
The St. Patrick's Day weekend is a time for the family to bond, especially the nieces and nephews.
"Their parents and other family members all get involved," Melvin said. "Those who aren't playing are there cheering the team on."
The weekend is about family coming home to the Springdale and is something everyone looks forward to each year. Melvin's sister, Barb Butt, enjoys the hockey as well as the social part of the weekend.
"My sister Lorraine and my sisters-in-law, and whoever else is around, all chip in and help out with the food," Barb said. "We laugh and we reminisce. It's really a lot of fun."
When the Butts Plus team is on the ice, the young and old alike are there to support their efforts.
"We had nieces and nephews and distant relatives from as young as four (years old)," she said. "They all have air horns and are cheering for the team."
Jon doesn't see the Butts Plus team folding anytime soon. While they are too young to join the team as players, two young hockey players from Springdale are very much a part of the team. Deon Warren and Jack Saunders are expected to be among the next generation of Butts Plus players.
"They come on the bench with us every year," Jon said. "They fill our (water) bottles. They open the gates for us so we can get on and off the benches. They are as much a part of the team as we are."