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St. Patrick’s Day events
Get Green Festival
When: 9 a.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. Sunday
Where: Varied locations along Wells Street Corridor on Wells Street
Admission: Free
Activities: Saturday – Strongman competition, 9 a.m.; 5-Kilt Run/Walk, 9:30 a.m.; greening of St. Marys River, 10:30 a.m.; Lucky Charms cereal eating contest, 2 p.m. Children can play in the Kids Fun Zone and meet Lucky the Leprechaun. The main tent will serve Irish food and beer, along with other refreshments. Live performances will begin at 6 p.m. for the 18-and-older crowd.
Deer Park Irish Pub
When: Begins 7:30 p.m. today, noon Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday
Where: 1530 Leesburg Road
Admission: No cover charge for weekend events; outside activities are for all ages
Activities: Tapping of the Keg, 7:30 p.m. today, with music beginning at 8 p.m. On Saturday, cornhole, 1 to 7 p.m.; music by Elle the Remnant at 8 p.m.; and leprechaun contest winner announced, 9:30 p.m. On Sunday, keg toss at 2 p.m.; Shamrock Sprint at 3 p.m.; the People’s Parade at 3:15 p.m.; and music by Scratch N Sniff at 3:30 p.m. Call 432-8966 for more information.
Flanagan’s Restaurant and Pub
When: Tent opens at 9 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday; restaurant opens at 10:30 a.m. Sunday
Where: 6525 Covington Road
Admission: $5 cover for tent, for ages 21 and over
Activities: Corned beef and cabbage and Irish stew available. There will be bagpipe performances throughout Saturday and Sunday. Tent will feature a DJ and dancing. Call 432-6666 for more information.
J.K. O’Donnell’s Irish Ale House
When: Tent opens 11 a.m. Sunday
Where: 121 W. Wayne St.
Admission: $5 for the outside tent; patrons receive a free drink with admission
Activities: Fort Wayne Police Department’s Pipe and Drum Brigade will play bagpipes throughout the day and T.A.G. Art Co. will have kid-friendly activities inside the tent from 1 to 3 p.m. Five musical acts are scheduled to play beginning at 1 p.m. in the outside tent. Call 420-5563 for more information.
Venice Restaurant
When: 11 a.m. Sunday
Where: 2242 Goshen Road
Admission: $3 cover charge after 2 p.m.
Activities: Serving corned beef and cabbage and green beer all day. Music by Shade Jonze, Kenny Taylor and the J Taylors begins at 2 p.m., and bagpipers will play at 5 p.m. Call 482-1618 for more information.
File photo
Lucky him: Firefighter Troy Egts pulls leprechaun duty.

Celebrate like Irish

Get Green Festival a downtown favorite for St. Paddy’s Day

Illustration by Gregg Bender | The Journal Gazette

Standing at 5 feet 2 inches, Fort Wayne firefighter Troy Egts was born to be Lucky.

For 12 years, Egts’ alter ego, Lucky the Leprechaun, has been the holiday mascot for the Get Green Festival hosted by the Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters union. The festival will take place Saturday along the Wells Street Corridor.

“I’ve been training for this job my entire life,” Egts says.

Born and raised in Fort Wayne, Egts joined the Fort Wayne Fire Department in 2001, a year after the first Get Green Festival. When Egts was approached to be Lucky, the rookie gladly obliged. John Sierra, festival coordinator, says there’s no question Egts is the “perfect man” for the job.

“Everybody loves him,” Sierra says.

Donning a luminous green firefighter helmet and matching green suit, Egts will spend almost 10 hours in costume, including prosthetic ears and beard. His day includes the 5-Kilt Run/Walk, riding the parade route, and greeting and taking pictures with fans in the main tent. Egts says he enjoys his one day of attention, but he likes that not many people would recognize him out of costume.

“That day, I’m not me anymore,” Egts says. “When the suit goes on, He (Lucky) has his own personality. That way, I can’t get in trouble for anything.”

The festival has gradually expanded over the years. This will be the second year the festival has been located along the Wells Street Corridor. In past years, the festival began at the old Wells Street Bridge for the greening of the St. Marys River. After the river greening, the festival would move to Headwaters Park West Pavilion for other events.

With the 13-year-old festival now drawing thousands, Sierra says moving to Wells Street has given the event more of a central location and a larger venue.

“We needed something bigger,” Sierra says. “The Wells Street Corridor is absolutely perfect.”

The festival features the Stout Barbell strongman competition, a Lucky Charms cereal eating contest, along with a play area and Lucky’s gold coin drop for children. The main tent will serve Irish food and green beer with live performances in the evening for those ages 18 and older.

All proceeds made during the festival go toward a number of charitable organizations like the FWFD/FWPD Fallen Hero Fund, breast cancer research and the Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters’ scholarship fund. Sierra expects at least 10,000 people.

“We definitely want families to come out because we have so many events,” Sierra says. “You can bring out your kids during the day, and come back at night.”

Egts says most firefighters are “big kids at heart,” which makes his interaction with families that much more rewarding. He says he hopes the festival grows even bigger in the coming years.

“It’s a really cool family-friendly day, and it’s nice for the department,” Egts says. “Every firefighter loves their job, and it’s nice to give back.”

Now more than a decade later, Egts says he’s beginning to think about recruiting for the next Lucky the Leprechaun, but he doesn’t have any plans to put down the green helmet just yet.

“There’s a strict learning curve to being a leprechaun,” Egts says.