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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Boston wins bid to host world Irish dancing contest


Tourism officials in Massachusetts are dancing with joy after winning the bid to host the World Irish Dancing Championships in 2013.

The Irish Dancing Commission in Dublin made the announcement after reviewing proposals from cities around the world.

Boston bested a number of other cities competing for the championship event, according to James Rooney (pictured above), head of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority.

"We're so pleased to be bringing this unique event to Boston," Rooney said, noting that the agency won the event "based on our award-winning facilities, our top-tier service and, we admit it, being the most Irish city in America."

The event will take place at the John Hynes Memorial Auditorium, in the city's upscale Back Bay neighborhood. The auditorium is close to the city's main shopping areas - Copley Place, Prudential Shopping and Newbury Street.

The Hynes is next to the Berklee College of Music, which has steadily increased its Irish connections in recent years. Riverdance composer Bill Whelan is on the board of trustees at the college, which is world famous for its jazz studies and other musical genres.

The eight-day competition, which runs from March 24-31, 2013, will have an $11 million economic impact on greater Boston, generating upwards of 17,000 hotel rooms, tourism officials said.

Nearly 7,000 dancers compete in a variety of categories, including solo and group competitions divided, and age groups, for male, female and mixed categories.

"This event is the Super Bowl of the dance world and what better city to stage this in 2013 than in Boston, with its world -renowned Irish culture," Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau chief, Patrick B. Moscaritolo, said.

The championship event is held each year and draws thousands of dancers from around the world. This past April it was held in Philadelphia, the first time the event has taken place in North America.

The Boston Irish Tourism Association (BITA) helped state officials organize letters-of-support from local Irish-American organizations like the Irish Cultural Centre of New England, Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, the Irish Foundation, and local chapters of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

Jack Hart, state senator from South Boston and father of four daughters who take Irish step dancing, said: "I can fully appreciate the level of excitement with Boston being chosen as host to this world class competition. Young dancers from all over the globe must qualify to participate in this event. I welcome these dancers to our great City of Boston."

Boston has played host to many national Irish events in the past, including the North American Irish Dancing Championships and the national conventions of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann and the Ancient Order of Hibernians.



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