The Irish capital of Nebraska made the best out of an unlucky St. Patrick’s Day.
Amidst the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus Disease 19, most of the St. Patrick’s day celebrations hosted by O’Neill, Nebraska, community members were canceled for public health safety. However, that didn’t stop them from celebrating a few of their annual traditions.
O’Neill Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Lauri Havranek said despite many events being canceled, the community came together for activities the week before St. Patrick’s Day.
Listen to Lauri Havranek here.
Among the activities that came to fruition, a community favorite is the ‘Mr. Irish Pageant’ that was held Sunday, March 8.
“It is hilarious. We have men that compete for the title of ‘Mr. Irish.’ They have to compete in interview, swimsuit, talent, and evening wear categories,” said Havranek.
Chad Dean, music director at O’Neill Public Schools, was crowned as 2020 ‘Mr. Irish.’
In addition to the pageant, Havranek said the community continued the tradition of painting the world’s largest shamrock and dying a horse green.
The community, with the help of the O’Neill Fire Department and Fenian Women’s Auxiliary, also added a new event this year: The Greening of the Pond.
Havranek said O’Neill – population 3,600 – usually doubles during St. Patrick’s Day celebration, so the impact of COVID-19 will have a substantial economic impact on the community.
Just one year ago, O’Neill and surrounding communities were severely affected by the historic floods, which impacted their 2019 St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
“We are resilient, we will get through this, and we are Irish Strong.”