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 Wednesday, Aug. 20, the 232nd day of 2014. There are 133 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Quite a number of Negroes have lately been brought here by abolition offers returning from the army in violation of the laws of the state. 1889 -- 125 years ago: Miss Tillie Denkmann, of Rock Island, was making plans to accompany a Davenport family on a tour of Europe. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The German advance into Belgium was going apparently without serious check. The American ambassador at Berlin published a denial of the charge that Americans had been ill-treated in Germany. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Seventy-two members of Rock Island High School's 1939 graduating class are preparing to enter college — 34 of them at Augustana. 1964 -- 50 years ago: One of the oldest buildings in Milan, which for a number of years has housed the Milan Hotel, will be razed to make way for a modern, two-story office structure. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Some are blaming it on the sudden influx of insects and the extreme humidity. Still others say the invasion was inspired by a recent movie. But whatever the reason, the Quad-Cities is swarming with bats.