You can call Maureen Rooney Miller a first-timer, but you may not call her a novice.
She has a grasp on the world that is St. Patrick's Day parades and celebrations, but this will be the St. Patrick Society's 2014 IrishMother of theYear's first St. Patrick's blowout in the Quad-Cities.
But let it be known, Miller is ready.
A newspaper publisher in Knoxville, Iowa, Miller is a laugh-per-minute type who lived for 28 years in Camanche, Iowa. She celebrates St. Patrick's months, not days, and cannot wait for her first St. Patrick's Day Parade in the Quad-Cities.
It will, however, not be her first dip into the pool that is St. Patrick's Day walkabouts.
"I'm from Dyersville (Iowa), and at the urging of family and friends, helped start the St. Patrick's Day parade there,'' Miller said. "I dressed up and drove a golf cart. My parents entered a float and for years, we had had a great time. I have some parade experience.''
Dyersville is a wonderful city that offers a fun St. Patrick's Day event, but few Irish shindigs rank with the only inter-state St. Patrick's Day parade in the country. Some celebrations are larger, but you cannot match the Quad-Cities in old-fashioned fun and viewer celebration.
"All those years when we lived in Camanche, we talked as a family about making the Quad-Cities parade a must for us,'' Miller, a mother of three, said. "In those days, we owned a party (supply) store in Clinton, and we always had weddings or some kind of event to be part of on Saturdays. As much as we tried, we never got to the Quad-Cities for the parade.''
In steps longtime Miller pals T. Waldmann Williams and Pat Schrad, two of the finest nomination letter-writers on the planet. The duo convinced the selection committee that a wonderful mother of three -- whose maiden name is Rooney, with deep Irish roots -- who can spare a week before her daughter gets married, is the perfect Mother of theYear choice.
Did we mention Miller celebrates St. Patrick's months, not days?
"I was honored and touched to be nominated,'' said Miller, who guides the everyday fortunes of the Knoxville Journal Express and Pella Chronicle newspapers. "It had a lot to do with being free this weekend, because of what we have as a family next weekend. A lot also had to do with being nominated and picked for such a great honor. You cannot step back from something as wonderful as that. I never imagined I would be so fortunate.''
Miller will be introduced at Friday's Gathering of the Clan Luncheon at Davenport's RiverCenter. The impact of the 36-hour Irish whirlwind that stands before her is not lost on theIrishMother of theYear.
"Who doesn't love a celebration?'' Miller said, voice raising. "This, though, is the big time and such a wonderful honor. There will be too much fun to be had for me to be nervous. I am excited and looking forward to all that comes with the celebration. I'm sure it's a beauty.''
And a perfect fit for a perfect first-timer.
Columnist John Marx can be reached at 309 757-8388 or Jmarx@qconline.com
Today is Friday, July 25, the 206th day of 2014. There are 159 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: Walter Jones, of Co, F 23rd Ky, volunteers, lost a satchel on the Camden road, yesterday, containing his papers of discharge from the army. 1889 -- 125 years ago: E. W. Robinson purchased from Mrs. J.T. Miller the livery stable on the triangle south of Market square. 1914 -- 100 years ago: A municipal; bathing beach was advocated at the weekly meeting of the city commission by commissioner Rudgren, who suggested the foot of Seventh Street as an excellent location. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Floyd Shetter, Rock Island county superintendent schools, announced teachers hired for nearly all of the 95 rural and village grade schools in the county. 1964 -- 50 years ago: The mercury officially reached the season's previous high of 95 about noon today and continued upward toward an expected mark of 97. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Fort Armstrong hotel once the wining and dining chambers of Rock Island's elite is under repair. Progress is being made though at a seeming snail's pace to return the building to a semblance of its past glory for senior citizen's homes.