Meadville Tribune

March 16, 2013

Longo wins 10th run for Leprechaun crown

By Mary Spicer
Meadville Tribune

MEADVILLE — DUBLIN-ON-FRENCH-CREEK — And then there was one.

The coveted hat of Grand Leprechaun in today’s Jack Curtin St. Patrick’s Day Parade is being worn by the victorious Jamie Longo, who demonstrated definitively that Seton Catholic School ruled the 2013 contest that marked the 10th run for the hat. Of course it did. Is the Pope Argentinean?

To be precise, if Longo, who waged her campaign on behalf of Seton’s technology fund, had increased her 10,084 votes by only 11.4 percent, her supporters would have bought more votes than those of all of her five competitors combined.

Which doesn’t mean those competitors weren’t working very hard. In fact, according to parade heiress Eileen (Leeny) Curtin Mullen, who inherited the parade following the death of her father back in 2004 and named it in his honor, everyone obtained at least 1,000 votes — a new parade record.

With a total of 21,318 votes cast, the parade committee cut its share of the take from the customary 10 percent to 7 percent, distributing a total of $19,825. The committee uses its funds to support the parade and celebration that follows, the Grand Leprechaun contest and local organizations working to contribute to the celebratory nature of the day.

It’s not for nothing that the race for Grand Leprechaun has become known in recent years as the Jack Curtin Stimulus Package.

Second place was captured by Amy Murphy Wells, whose supporters bought 5,253 votes to support United Way of Western Crawford County.

In third place, Deb Pavlek’s supporters bought 1,787.5 votes to support Judith’s Jig Memorial 5K Run, which leaves Diamond Park at 10 a.m. today.

Josh Sherretts captured fourth place with 1,597.5 votes cast on behalf of the Baldwin-Reynolds House Museum.

Larry Dickson’s efforts on behalf of CASA garnered a total of 1,535 votes, while Jack Lynch collected 1,064 votes on behalf of Big Brothers & Sisters of Crawford County.

Join the parade

When the parade steps off at noon today from Diamond Park, it will have something of a new look and feel thanks to the efforts of Meadville Mayor Christopher Soff and Christian Maher, 2012 Grand Leprechaun, to encourage the men of Meadville to don kilts for the occasion.

“Dad would be thrilled,” Mullen told the crowd assembled at Mickey’s Friday night for the hatting of the winner. “Forget about jobs,” she chuckled. “Bring kilts to Meadville. If you bring kilts to Meadville, jobs will follow.”

Grand Marshal Dave Kennedy, who Mullen described as “my favorite teacher — ever” will lead off the action.

“Now that I’m an adult, I understand the impact and importance of a wonderful teacher,” she said, noting that after Kennedy retired from Meadville Area Senior High School, “he went to work at the Crawford County Courthouse and touched many more lives.”

The parade’s Irish Rose for 2013 is Meadville’s former city clerk and current assistant city clerk, Janet Niedermeyer.

Ever since that historic day back in 1988 when Curtin and his buddy, the late Bill Kronenfeld, decided that what this town really needed was a parade, Curtin always obtained a parade permit — even if he expected to be the only marcher.

“Every year when I fill out the permit, Janet talks about my father,” Mullen explained. “She keeps the dream alive.”

For her years of support for the Grand Leprechaun effort, Annie Mackiewicz of Mickey’s, the establishment on Park Avenue whose write-in candidates consistently overcame ballot contenders during the early years of the race, received the parade committee’s Irish Spirit Award.

You can go

- The annual Blarney Breakfast hosted by Unitarian Universalist Church of Meadville at the corner of Chestnut and South Main streets at Diamond Park will be served from 9 a.m. to noon. The menu includes pancakes, eggs, sausage, the legendary baked oatmeal and a choice of beverage. Tickets are $7 per adult and $3.50 per child under 10.

- Judith’s Jig Memorial 5K Race in memory of the late Meadville resident Judith Gilbert begins and ends at Diamond Park. Registration starts 9 a.m.; race at 10 a.m. Race day registration is $22 for all runners and walkers. Proceeds benefit CASA and Kansius Research Foundation.

- Meadville Market House features special cookies and appropriate music of the day.

- The Jack Curtin St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Celebration steps off at noon from Diamond Park and proceeds along Chestnut Street to the Downtown Mall. Put on a bit ‘o the green and join the march.

- “2 for the Road.” Landscapes of Ireland by Carmen DiGiacomo will be on display and the artist will be signing his works today at Sandy’s Art Works, 215 Chestnut St. The second photographer is landscape artist Basil Bumbera.

Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at