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Idaho to Ireland: Live from Limerick, the Red Hot Mamas visit Morning Edition

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Red Hot Mamas
The Red Hot Mamas are finally making good on a 2020 invitation to the Limerick St. Patrick's Day Parade.

The Energizer Bunny has nothing on the Red Hot Mamas – perhaps Idaho’s most unique performance troupe. In fact, they’ll be spending this St. Patrick’s Day, marching in one of the planet’s most iconic parades, in Limerick, Ireland.

“We just perform song after song after song,” said “Red Hot Mama” Pam Eaton. “You know, the audience is changing every 20 seconds or so.”

The “Mamas” range in age from 18 to 100 and hail from Post Falls. They’ve performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and events across North America.

But just before they perform in Limerick, Ireland, Eaton visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day in the Emerald Isle.

“And somebody actually commented and said, ‘You guys dress up better than we do for St. Patrick's Day.’”

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It's Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News Good morning. I'm George Prentice. The saying in Gaelic is:  the same in Gaelic is “Triu hair a charm.” Translation? Third time's a charm. Idaho's Red Hot Mamas…. Yes, that's the name of the performance troupe… received an invitation to perform in Ireland in 2020. Well, the pandemic hit. And then there was another invitation in 2021. And well…you know. But then there's another invitation for this year and indeed, third time's a charm. Joining us live this morning from Ireland is Pam Ames, one of the Red Hot Mamas. Pam, happy St Patrick's Day to you!

PAM EATON: Thank you. Same to you.

PRENTICE: First off, tell us about the Red Hot Mamas. Tell us about your performance…. Paint a word picture for us.

EATON: Well, it's been around for about 30 years. Mikki Stevens is the director. She's the one that thought of all this. And so people have come and gone with different seasons of their lives. But it's for anybody from 18 to 100. We actually have some ladies getting close to 80 that are in our group this week. How do we dress up a lot of times? The basic costume is Mamas and then we go with feathers and bling… and everything from there. Usually, the hats have to be at least as large as your head, if not bigger, to to make it. And we just like we kind of dance around. It's kind of like a drill team, kind of a dance troupe, comedy all together. We love parades, but we also do shows for like nursing homes and things like that. So it's just a fun thing that she wanted to start for older ladies to know that you still can do something even after a certain age.

PRENTICE: And the Red Hot Mamas have marched in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and in different events across North America. And I know that it was touch and go…and then finally g…o to Ireland. This was a really big deal for you.

EATON: And actually, this started, I'm sure, longer ago for Mikki Stevens. But five years ago, I remember she wrote a list out for us. The year we're going to go to Macy's. And she said, Well, what else would be on your bucket list? And she had Ireland on that list. And I remember signing up saying, Wouldn't that be so cool to do St. Patrick's Day in Ireland? So that was five years ago. And then, of course, actively we were doing it three, two years ago. You know what? I think we were all still holding our breath up until the week before because we've been so used to everything getting canceled and then what's going on in the world now? And so when it really was within a week, we were like, we're really going to do this and very excited. Our group has gone down quite a bit. We're probably a quarter of what we would have been. But we're happy to represent.

PRENTICE: And you’re spending St. Patrick's Day in Limerick.

EATON: Yes. And we started out, we went to Dublin and we do. We also like to do little surprise attacks with crowds where we'll do some chants or we'll do a little dance rejig for them where they just looking at us like, what are you doing? Because we we where we have travel costumes? And so we're wearing green, even though we're the red hot mamas over here, we're wearing green. And somebody actually commented and said, “You guys dress up better than we do for St. Patrick's Day.”

PRENTICE: But it's almost as if your group was tailor-made for St. Patrick's Day, right?

EATON: Oh, it is. You know, when we looked at pictures of other St. Patrick's Day parades here in Ireland, it's like we are going to fit right in. No problem.

PRENTICE: Well, tell me about your first impressions. I adore Ireland. I've spent a fair amount of time there and I especially loved the west of Ireland; and Limerick is in the Midwest. Have you enjoyed Ireland thus far and the Irish people?

EATON: Oh my goodness. You know, we have several mamas that have said I'm coming back for sure. They are so friendly. They are so their customer service, their been so nice. We feel so pampered and they'll come up to us to ask what's going on because they see all these ladies with a funny green top hats on. And I, we of all, really loved it and we're learning a lot about their history and they've had some pretty sad history. But there's a lot of things. They're related to America with different people, and we have really it's been great. We haven't run across any unfriendly Irish person yet.

PRENTICE: And it's because of that history, that they truly love to emerge… and have a good party… and embrace life. So, do you perform to songs that we might know?

EATON: Oh yeah, we will be dancing to That Old Time Rock ‘n Roll. Oh yes, they all recognize that. And thankfully it is one of my favorite songs because of course, we've had to listen to it a thousand times, but I still love it. And we actually were pushing strollers and attached to the strollers. We have little stuffed animals that we've dressed up like leprechauns, kind of. And that always gets people wondering what we're doing, but throwing them around a little. And when we do it, we don't. We just perform song after song after song. You know, the audience is changing every 20 seconds or so. We don't stop for quite a while

PRENTICE: And after the parade, I have to assume that you love to party.

EATON: Well, we'll be doing our best.

PRENTICE: Well, from half a world away in Idaho to the Emerald Isle, she is Pam Ames with the Red Hot Mamas. Pam, happy St Patrick's Day and have a wonderful time today.

EATON: Thank you so much.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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