Meadville Tribune

March 13, 2013

Grand Leprechaun race moves into final hours

By Mary Spicer
Meadville Tribune

DUBLIN-ON-FRENCH-CREEK — Putting their faith in the luck of the Irish and next-day delivery, the men of the Ville of Mead have ordered their kilts and wondering whether appropriately-stylish knee warmers might perhaps be available in time for Saturday’s march down Chestnut Street.

In the meantime, the shillelagh-brandishing competition to wear the coveted hat of Grand Leprechaun in the 26th Annual Jack Curtin St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Celebration that has come to be known in 2013 as “the battle of the fundraising giants” continues unabated.

Following Monday’s second official vote tally in the underground bunker known as “The Counting Room” at a local banking institution that has now been officially welcomed into the federal witness protection program, Jamie Longo remains in first place by a lead that can only be described as awe-inspiring. Or indicative that everyone else is up to something.

The last day for casting votes is Thursday.

In addition to bringing in the as-yet-undisclosed big bucks, Longo has also established a new tradition at Seton Catholic School — the soon-to-be-annual Alumni Basketball Game. Inspired by the Grand Leprechaun race, “we threw it together and it worked well,” she said Monday, basking in the glory of maintaining her first-place-so-far position going into the final leg of the race. “We’ve had a lot of requests to continue it — the alumni loved it.”

Longo also shared another piece of good news — the Seton Plaid skirts have arrived. While other candidates are claiming dubious ties to various tartans, she and arch-rival Amy Murphy Woods will be flaunting their school ties — make that skirts.

Woods, battling on behalf of United Way of Western Crawford County, leapt into second place Monday, narrowing Longo’s lead to a paltry 3-to-1.

In the wake of vicious attacks from her competition following the first vote tally, Woods is opting for the high road. “I would vote for the nice leprechaun who hasn’t said any disparaging comments about her competition and who has gone to almost all their events to support them,” she said Monday. “Vote for the nice girl, no matter what they’ve said about me in the papers (Jack Lynch, you know who you are).”

Josh Sherretts, who dropped into third place following Woods’ emergence as a contender, isn’t about to give up the fight.

His pot full of tricks, however, hasn’t been helped by a lack of equine support for his campaign in the form of volunteer horsepower to pull an historic carriage bearing his top donor through the streets of Meadville.

Another one of Sherretts’ bribes — an offer to give the two-story stone ice house built into the side of a hill on the grounds of the mansion to the top donor — has also taken an unusual spin. Frankly, he isn’t sure if there will be an ice house to give away by the time the contest ends, seeing as how someone has already apparently been numbering the blocks in preparation for dismantling. And while he had been assured by investigators that a box truck parked on Lord Street for the past several days was completely unrelated to the dismantling, Sherretts revealed Monday that one of the neighbors found a rental slip on the street naming Woods as the renter. However, Lynch’s fingerprints were rumored to have been found on the receipt.

Debbie Pavlek, raising funds for Judith’s Jig Memorial 5K Race, was guest bartending at Chovy’s Monday night and was unavailable to comment on her fourth-place position in the race. However, the green outfits she’s donned for every day of the race so far have garnered almost as much attention around town as the dresses worn to the recent Academy Awards.

Lynch, whose cause is Big Brothers & Sisters of Crawford County, was out hunting up missing ballot boxes he has claimed were swiped by — this will come as a surprise — Woods. However, according to his campaign manager, who also happens to be both his wife and executive director of his cause of choice, “His Irish boxing gloves are off, and we’re off and running.”

While Larry Dickson owns up to getting off to a slow start, he’s gaining momentum by the minute by engaging in what he describes as “a grass-roots, door-to-door begging-for-CASA campaign.” Then there’s the website.

Dickson, however, is opting to take a higher road. “I decided to volunteer for one of my competitors,” he said. “I’m going to be one of the people assisting with Judith’s Jig (which departs from the Diamond Saturday morning). If my contributors continue to dress me (check out the CASA facebook page created just for the occasion), I’ll be in full garb by 9 a.m. to help with Judith’s Jig and be in the parade by noon.” To be perfectly clear as far as the purity of his altruistic intentions are concerned, however, half of the proceeds raised by the Jig will ultimately go to CASA.

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