Irish pride was on full display Saturday night, as members of the community gathered to select the next queen who will reign over Montreal’s 195th consecutive St. Patrick’s Day parade.
The contest, organized by the United Irish Societies of Montreal, has been held every year since 1956.
It used to be a popularity contest of sorts, with the winner being chosen through crowd applause, but now contestants must take part in a public speaking event if they hope to be crowned the winner.
“These are young women who are very accomplished, they are educated, they are in school, they’re studying, they’re working, they’re doing volunteer work,” said Colleen Murphy, chairperson of the Queen Selection Evening.
“They’re active vibrant members of our community.”
Thirteen women of Irish descent aged 18 to 25, took part in the competition, but it was 23-year-old Kathleen Brown-Vandecruys, a Dorval resident, who was crowned queen.
“It’s a very big honour because for the whole entire year you’re going to be representing the Irish community of Montreal,” Murphy said of the winner. “So it’s really a chance to represent your community and feel pride in your Irish roots and heritage.”
Brown-Vandecruys graduated from McGill University in the fall of 2017 and currently works for the City of Dorval. She soon plans on joining the Canadian Armed Forces.
“I’m waiting for my start date,” she said. “I really want to end up working in international security or international security studies, so this is just kind of to get my hands dirty to start, to get some experience and go out there.”
And of course, Brown-Vandecruys, is excited to take on her new duties as queen.
“There are so many events that I’m excited for,” she told Global News. “First of all, there is a media day and we’re going to get a chance to go to the Children’s and meet some of the kids and I’m really looking forward to that day.”
She’s also looking forward to the Irishman of the Year Breakfast, not to mention the St. Patrick’s Day Ball, although she admitted she’s never been to a ball before.
Rounding up the queen’s court are princesses Darragh Kilkenny-Mondoux, 24; Olivia O’Keeffe, 24; Taylor Pogue, 22; and Lauren Tracey, 22.
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Murphy saluted the participants’ courage, adding it isn’t easy to take to the stage and speak in front of hundreds of people.
“We’re very proud to have these young women come and participate tonight. It shows a really great involvement in the Irish community.”