O'Neill paints 'world's largest shamrock'
O'NEILL -- Settled by Irish immigrants, one town in Nebraska -- proclaimed the Irish capital of the state -- takes St. Patrick's Day to a whole new level. O'Neill kicked off St. Patrick's Day celebrations with its annual painting of the shamrock.
"I just like playing here with my friends," said Jaidyn K. Owens, 10.
" -- and eating and painting the shamrock!" said Braelynn Fayefurman, 10.
Around 1,500 gathered Wednesday night.
"It's warmer than what I ever remember," Owens said.
Celebrating religious history, "It's about a saint," said Anston Barbara Vott, 9, as well as heritage.
"Well my family came here, my family is from Ireland," Khloe Mitchell Way, 10.
"O'Neill is our heritage and Irish is what we are," Lauri Havranek, President/CEO of O'Neill Chamber of Commerce said.
Havranek stuffed the week with St. Patty's Day events.
She made sure to highlight the so-called world's biggest shamrock.
"It started as a group of guys got together and initially painted the shamrock up a block north and we would go to bed and get up in the morning and there would be shamrocks in the street," Havranek said.
It became a public event in 1976, as Mary Duffy remembers the very first time.
"I was in the slipper kicking contest, I got second place!" Duffy exclaimed.
Next year, Havranek wants to have the largest shamrock title certified by the Guinness World Records.