BY MARTA HEPLER DRAHOS
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Neither snow nor rain nor winter cold — the achoo kind — can stay Todd McCall from his appointed rounds Saturday.
McCall, a member of the local Ancient Order of Hibernians, will have a hand in launching some of the area’s favorite St. Patrick’s Day celebration events.
The fun begins with the National Cherry Festival’s third annual Leapin’ Leprechaun St. Patty’s Day 5K foot race for all ages. National Cherry Queen Meg Howard will be on hand for the 9 a.m. start in the Warehouse District and will run with participating kids. Registration is $38 for adults and $25 for kids 12 and under. For more information, call 947-4230 or visit cherryfestival.org.
Then it’s on to North Peak Brewing Company for a pre-St. Patrick’s Day parade gathering at noon. That’s when officials will announce this year’s Irish Queen, Irish Lord Mayor, Irish Prince and Princess and Hibernian of the Year, before beginning staging on Hall Street for the 1:30-ish parade.
“It’s open to anyone who wants to walk in the parade,” from Irish setters to St. Patrick’s Church congregants, to Boy Scouts in kilts, McCall said. “It’s for anyone who has an Irish heritage or an Irish enthusiasm.
“Two years ago when we had that super-fantastic weather, everyone came out. We don’t actually take a head count, but we think it was around 5,000 that year.”
The parade, this year led by Grand Marshall Charlie Murphy, a Traverse City-based artist, winds down Front Street by way of Hall, West Front, Pine, State and Park Streets. It wraps up back at North Peak and Kilkenny’s Irish Pub (downstairs) for post-parade entertainment by Song of the Lakes and the Wild Sullys from 2:30-5 p.m. and from 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.
“It’s chaos,” said Mike Lloyd, general manager and partner at North Peak. “It’s the one day of the year that we actually have to let our guard down. Normally we control the seating but they pile in 100 or 200 for the parade. They come in and move tables, stand on tables and make announcements. It’s loud. But it’s a lot of fun.”
Kilkenny’s also will hold its annual St. Baldrick’s fundraiser from 5-7 p.m. Licensed cosmetologist Kimberly Lloyd will shave heads for donations to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for childhood cancer research.
At the City Opera House, audition winners in three categories will vie for $1,500 in prizes in the 33rd Danny Boy Contest finals. This year’s finals are part of the UpNorth Media Center’s “Absolutely Irish Teleganza,” an all-Irish concert also featuring Song of the Lakes, the Wild Sullys, cellist Crispin Campbell, piper Stephen MacNeil and fiddler and Celtic flat-picker Ruby John and Dane Hyde.
Danny Boy contestant Gaeyle Gerrie will come all the way from Boyne City to sing her a cappella rendition of the song covered by everyone from Elvis Presley to Joan Baez.
““I try to sing it in a way that translates the emotion,” said Gerrie, a member of Boyne Celtic Session and owner of a music entertainment business called Synergy Sound. “Life is short and when someone is called away they may or may not come back. And that’s profound. ‘Danny Boy’ reflects that type of sentiment.”
The Teleganza runs from 7 to 10 p.m. and will air and stream live on UpNorthTV cable channels 97 & 992 and www.upnorthmedia.org. General admission tickets are $17.50 in advance and $20 at the door at the City Opera House, 941-8082 or www.cityoperahouse.org.