Holyoke Colleen pageant returns after 2-year hiatus

Colleen pageant returns after 2-year hiatus
Published: Jan. 7, 2023 at 11:14 PM EST
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HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) -The Grand Colleen Pageant is an annual tradition in Holyoke that was briefly put on pause the past two years. Now it is just one of the many traditions making its post pandemic return.

“They’re excited, we’re excited, we are all glad to be back here!” said Abigail Scanlon, media liaison for the St. Patrick’s Committee of Holyoke.

It’s an annual tradition in Holyoke: ten girls from the area competing for a coveted spot as one of five annual Colleen’s.

This year marked the pageants return after a short hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scanlon said the pause has only intensified this year’s excitement

“We’ve had so many excited parents and little kids, even some of the contestants, I talked to them earlier, have been coming since they were little girls,” she said. “I think people are so excited for this to happen again and for us to have a full parade season again!”

Five of the ten contestants were chosen Saturday evening as the Grand Colleen’s Court for the upcoming Holyoke Saint Patrick’s Parade.

The event kicked off with a presentation of the colors and performances of several traditional Irish dances. The girls were judged based on four unique categories including appearance, poise, intelligence and personality.

Colleens’ past and present call the group a sisterhood.

We caught up with two of the finalists from 2020 who told us what it means to be back:

“Everyone here has become such family and all the girls have become like sisters so it’s amazing to be back together again,” said 2020 court member Haley Dusseault.

Their message to this year’s contestants –

“It takes a lot of confidence and bravery to go out there, so I am really proud of them for doing that. It’s no easy feat to be up on stage in front of so many people and have your accomplishments splayed out like that so I am really proud of them,” said 2020 Grand Colleen Moira McDermott.

Sunday’s five finalists will attend the coronation ball on Feb. 18 before walking in the St. Patrick’s Day parade the following month.

The five finalists for the Holyoke Grand Colleen are: Mara Moriarty Donnie, Caroline Sullivan Leahy, Abby Ross Glasheen, Lauren Nicole Ryan and Catherine Mary Keane.