Exploring students endure the cold to chronicle St. Patty’s parade

Exploring adviser Rick Ruggles (far left) introduces Exploring students Alejandra Varela (left, middle) and Vanessa Chavez (right, middle) to Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts (right). Students in the Exploring program tracked down stories at Omaha's St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 11.

Rick Ruggles

Omaha World-Herald Exploring Adviser

Six Omaha World-Herald Explorers descended Saturday on the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Omaha.

The high school students, members of the Boy Scouts’ Exploring career-discovery program, covered the parade in freezing weather, interviewing and photographing participants and spectators.

Vanessa Chavez of Millard South and Alejandra Varela of Omaha South met Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Zoey Huckins of Duchesne Academy interviewed parade chairman Hugh Spellman. “He likes to come here because it (the parade) recognizes the Irish culture in America,” Zoey said.

Emma Whaley of Omaha Central aimed to find the Heartland Pride LGBT group in the parade. She located it and scampered around it, shooting photos of its members and their huge, rainbow-colored flag.

Emma Whaley of Omaha Central kneels down to snap photos of the Heartland Pride LGBT group.
Emma Whaley of Omaha Central kneels down to snap photos of the Heartland Pride LGBT group. CHRIS PETERS/EXPLORING

Kate Smith of Millard North and Jake Pietryga of Omaha Gross interviewed representatives of the Omaha Beef football team.

“They had their quarterback and their male dancers and the cheerleaders,” Kate said.

Kate Smith of Millard North (middle, right) and Jake Pietryga of Omaha Gross (far right) interview representatives of the Omaha Beef football team in the moments before the St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Kate Smith of Millard North (middle, right) and Jake Pietryga of Omaha Gross (far right) interview representatives of the Omaha Beef football team in the moments before the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. CHRIS PETERS/EXPLORING

Metro-area Exploring leader Tara Lopez took photos of the students. So did Chris Peters, a reporter for the World-Herald and a leader of the newspaper’s Exploring group.

The temperature hadn’t reached 30 degrees yet. Jake arrived at the World-Herald in shorts but wisely changed into long pants.

The parade was cold but the vibe was warm.

Participants included dancers and clowns, cops and firefighters, dogs and kids, beauty queens and old men, Mayor Jean Stothert and her mayoral opponent Heath Mello, bicyclists and people in Star Wars costumes.

Clowns in golf carts prepare for the St. Patrick's Day Parade in downtown Omaha on March 11. CHRIS PETERS/EXPLORING
Clowns in golf carts prepare for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. CHRIS PETERS/EXPLORING

Vanessa interviewed a family with a young girl whose birthday falls on St. Patrick’s Day.
Alejandra said it was fun to see the dedication of the people enduring the cold to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, which officially falls on March 17.

And it was fun to see the dedication of the World-Herald Explorers, working as journalists at a chilly, beautiful St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

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