The Chateauguay and Valley Irish Heritage Association (CVIHA) is preparing to crown a new queen and princesses for the 2024 edition of the St. Patrick’s Day parade. The queen and her court will be chosen during the annual selection evening, set to take place on February 18, and the application period is now open.
“It is a great opportunity for the girls to get experience with public speaking and a chance to do a bit of digging into their history and their Irish culture,” says CVIHA president Patricia Martineau, who suggests that many girls are especially inspired while discovering their Irish heritage. “It is a very interesting culture and background based on folklore,” Martineau explains, noting the Irish have maintained their traditional beliefs, while similar myths and superstitions have been lost over the generations in other cultures.
The competition for the crown is a public speaking contest where participants are expected to talk about their heritage. Martineau says all the candidates work with a mentor, who is often a former queen or queen mum, before the selection evening to ensure they are well prepared.
Big shoes to fill
The CVIHA has already received several applications, which suggests a return to pre-pandemic interest in the contest. “But we would like to have more,” says Martineau, who notes that this past year’s queen, Madison Chandler, has set the bar high for her successor.
Chandler, who attends Chateauguay Valley Regional High School, has the distinction of being the youngest queen crowned by the Association. “She is a phenomenal young lady,” says Martineau. “We were impressed,” she admits, not only by Chandler’s poise, but by her dedication to the Association and the community.
The teenager participated in most of the events organized over the year by the CVIHA and organized the Irish Crowns Unite for a Cause fundraiser in September, which raised $6,600 for local food pantries. Martineau says it has been refreshing to see that “We still have young girls who want to do something and make a difference.”
Martineau is looking forward to this year’s selection evening, saying she is confident they will find another gem. “I am always impressed,” she remarks.
As for Chandler, she is feeling sad her reign is coming to an end but has enjoyed the year. And while she is not eligible to participate in the queen selection competitions for the other Irish societies and associations for at least two years, she is planning on staying involved with the CVIHA. Among other things, she hopes to make the Irish Crowns Unite for a Cause fundraiser into an annual event.
Chandler will speak about her reign during an address as part of the selection evening in February, before she has the honour of crowning the new queen and princesses. She says a highlight of this past year has been participating in the many St. Patrick’s Day parades and events, but also values the connections she has made within her local association and the Irish community in general. She encourages all girls between the ages of 14 and 29 with Irish heritage to consider participating in the competition.
To apply, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org before January 28 for an application form.