The cutthroat competition for the transcendent honor of wearing the coveted Grand Leprechaun hat in the 26th Annual Jack Curtin St. Patrick’s Day and Celebration starts today. In fact, green ballot boxes and official green-and-white ballot envelopes will begin appearing in select locations throughout the greater Meadville area shortly after noon. Voting will continue through March 14.
This is a victory that can be bought. In fact, that’s the point. The price of each vote is $1, which makes it breathtakingly impressive that the two most recent Grand Leprechauns, Christian Maher and Victoria Soff, each garnered more than 15,000 (yes, one-five-comma-zero-zero-zero) votes.
At least 90 percent of the proceeds raised will be passed on to the charity of each candidate’s choice; the balance will be used to help defray parade expenses as well as support events in various downtown venues on parade day.
This is not a race for the weak at heart. While each campaign is different — some more different than others — each victor seems to have shared a somewhat similar philosophy: More can be accomplished with a kind word and a shillelagh than can be accomplished with just a kind word.
The coveted hat will be worn in the parade, which kicks off promptly at noon on March 16 from Meadville’s Diamond Park and proceeds along Chestnut Street to the Downtown Mall, where the festivities really begin. Participating in the parade is remarkably simple. If you’ve gotten a whole group together — or a band (hint, hint) — or plan to build a float or drive large pieces of equipment, getting in touch with John Kerr at Jaron’s Jewelers on Chestnut Street in advance is a really good idea. Otherwise, just show up at the park a bit before noon. The wearing of green is strongly encouraged and Meadville’s mayor, Christopher Soff, has promised to be especially pleasant to anyone strapping on a kilt.
At this point in the race for the coveted hat, some campaigns are fairly well thought-out while others are in, well, formative stages. However, as the Irish are known to say, “It’s not a delay to stop and sharpen the scythe.”
For those who prefer to not be caught up in the magic of the race, no problem. Committee members are more than happy to share a cherished proverb from the ould sod to which they turn for comfort in times of toil and strife:
May those that love us, love us.
And those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if he doesn’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we’ll know them by their limping.
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