By: Tim Maninger, Features Writer
St. Pat’s at Missouri S&T is steeped in tradition and a large part of that tradition is the Coronation and Knighting Ceremony. This event is an annual celebration of the history of St. Pat’s and those who have and continue to contribute to the Rolla community, S&T campus, and charity efforts. For the past several years, the event has been held in the Leach Theater in Castleman Gall. There, honors are bestowed, songs are sung, and all the silliness that one would expect is used to great effect to make the Coronation a jovial and well loved part of the St. Pat’s tradition.
This year’s celebration started with music from The Lost Trails, a local quartet. Following the end of their slow and smooth rendition of John Denver’s “Take me Home, Country Roads,” the Master of Ceremonies stepped up to the podium to begin the event. After introducing the honorary knights to be, some of whom were greeted with a bang and a flash from the pyrotechnics on either side of the stage, the Master of Ceremonies went on to explain the history and origins of St. Pat’s in Rolla as well as a warning of what was to come during this ceremony.
In 1908, the first St. Pat, George Menefee, and his court were inspired by an invitation to the celebration of the University of Missouri – Columbia to create a rival celebration of their own. After being planned and publicized in secret, the student body met, shillelaghs and green sashes on hand, for a party at the Grand Central Station in Downtown Rolla. Understandably, the faculty was not amused at their classes being empty, so they called on the school’s new director, Dr. Lewis Young. Upon hearing of the faculty’s anger from Dr. Young’s secretary, the party gathered into the first ever St. Pat’s parade and marched to Norwood Hall. Once there, they saw the faculty waiting for them. George Menefee walked right up to Dr. Young and bid him to kneel in the name of St. Patrick. Surprisingly, he did so, and Menefee therefore dubbed him the first Honorary Knight of Saint Patrick. So began the century old tradition that we know today.
After the speech, St. Pat and his court arrived, adorned in robes and sunglasses to shield their eyes from the harsh stage lights or possibly for other reasons that one might assume. They were greeted with cheers and song and seated upon a throne, all the while the trumpeter blared away piteously and giant pyrotechnic snakes spewed multicolored fire. The 2016 Queen of Love and Beauty, Cassie Hurley of GDI and KMNR, and the Honorary St. Pat, Bob Edwards, were also brought out to their thrones. Finally the queen candidates for Queen of Love and Beauty and Queen’s Court were brought out with their escorts and individually introduced as a pair; however, there was some confusion as the lists appeared to get mixed up. After the national anthems of the United States and Ireland were sung, the knightings began.
Student organizations, Fraternities, and Sororities from all over campus nominated an individual to be knighted. The Herald announced each one in an exaggerated and booming voice, as parts of what appeared to be the ceiling periodically dropped on his head. After the student honoraries were knighted, the non-student honoraries were recognized and brought to the stage to be knighted. With this completed, it was time to select and announce the new Queen of Love and Beauty and her Court. The Herald stalled and built suspense before the final announcement, eliciting a cry of “Is it Moonlight?” from an audience member. Finally the announcement was made, and Tegan Brand of GDI was crowned the new Queen of Love and Beauty for the year 2017. Her court was announced as the following: Princess of Peace and Happiness, Kate Gilfoil of Lambda Sigma Pi; Countess of Chastity and Virtue, Jacee Wood of Delta Omicron Lambda; Duchess of Desire and Ecstasy, Lauren Cockrum of KMNR; and Lady of Honor and Devotion, Samantha Green representing Phi Kappa Theta.
Once the Queen had been announced all that was left was a proclamation given by the Master of Ceremonies. With the conclusion of the coronation, St. Pat and his court led the procession from the stage amid a storm of confetti and pyrotechnics. The 109th Annual Best Ever St. Pat’s Coronation was a spectacle unrivaled on the S&T campus. This ceremony is full of tradition, but that does not detract from the silliness that has made it such a staple of campus culture and the celebration’s Irish roots.