CHICOPEE — The Chicopee St. Patrick’s Parade Committee will be crowning a new colleen and her court at the Coronation Ball on Saturday, Feb. 24 starting at 4:30 p.m.

The event will take place at Chicopee Portuguese American Club, 149 Exchange St.

Each year, contestants compete for an opportunity to represent their city as the next colleen or a member of her court for the upcoming year.

Along with the chance to represent their city, participation in the colleen contest also allows young women in Chicopee to apply for scholarships, build interviewing skills, work on resumes, make connections with peers and community leaders and practice public speaking, according to Ball Committee Chair Laura McCarthy.

This year there will be 12 contestants vying for the 2024 colleen crown.
This year’s contestants include Melia Young, Kate Gauthier, Morgan Presnal, Madelyn Rice, Lillian Young, Jordyn Lemelin, Tyina Morales, Natalie Dulong, Blakely Fields, Jadalyn Flores, Kinamarie Ayala and Giannalee Beach.

McCarthy explained the process to be chosen as the colleen for Chicopee.
Female residents of Chicopee between the ages of 17 and 20 years old are eligible to compete and are also not required to be of Irish heritage.

“We operate our colleen contest a little differently than the other communities. A lot of communities select five finalists at some sort of contest they have and then at their Coronation Ball, they pick a colleen from the five,” McCarty said.

She added, “What we do is, we have 12 contestants, and they will be presented on [Feb. 24] and then the judges will pick from those 12 contestants, five young ladies and then each one of them answer a question in front of the judges and the audience and then the judges narrow it down to one colleen and her court.”
So far before the event, the contestants have had two rehearsals on Feb. 18 and 19 and first met at an Irish Tea on Feb. 11.

During the rehearsals, judges can meet the contestants, view their resumes and interview them as well.

“It’s a wonderful month and we have community officials, City Council, committee members and the judges all at the event along with the contestants’ families. It’s a very exciting time,” McCarthy added.

Colleen Contest Coordinator Denise Noble talked about her excitement for this year St. Patrick’s Day parade.

“We are all pretty excited because the parade actually happens on St. Patrick’s Day and that obviously doesn’t happen all the time. It will be a fun time for the girls, for the committee. Our committee works very hard year-round to pull this off and get everyone together. One of the highlights for the girls is getting to ride on the float,” Noble said.