By Kevin Kelley
The fourth annual Northern Ohio Rose of Tralee selection ceremony will take place Friday evening at LaCentre Conference & Banquet Facility in Westlake.
Two young ladies – Grainne Mangan, of Cleveland, and Annemarie Cunningham, of Sheffield Village – will vie for the title of Northern Ohio Rose and a trip to Ireland.
Named after a 19th-century ballad about unrequited love, the contest is part of a weeklong festival in the Irish town that began a sister-city relationship with Westlake in 2009.
The contest is open to unmarried women, ages 18-27, of Irish descent. Judging is based on communication skills, poise, personality and talent.
The woman selected as the Northern Ohio Rose will travel to Ireland in about a month to compete in a preliminary contest. Finalists will go on to Westlake’s sister city of Tralee, Ireland, to compete in the finals, which are broadcast nationally on Irish television.
Seats for Friday’s event are still available. Tickets that include a VIP reception that starts at 6 p.m. cost $125 each. Tickets for the ceremony alone, which begins at 7 p.m., cost $75. To obtain tickets, send an e-mail to inquiries@NorthernOhioRose.com.
Returning as emcees for this year’s program are sports reporter Dan Coughlin and 2011 Northern Ohio Rose Bridget Linton, now a Fox Sports Ohio personality.
Brett Luengo, a Westlake businessman and Northern Ohio Rose organizer, said this year’s program will include a greater focus on Westlake’s Sister City relationships, including a recent teacher exchange between Westlake and Tralee. Westlake is also a sister city to Kingsville, Ontario.
The Northern Ohio Rose competition is run by Westlake World Partners, a nonprofit corporation formed to work with the city in pursuing its sister-city relationships. Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough and City Council President Mike Killeen are among the founders of Westlake World Partners.
Westlake World Partners is officially the Northern Ohio Rose affiliate of the international competition; however, no southern or mid-Ohio affiliate exists, and an Ohio Rose affiliate went defunct a number of years ago. Therefore the titles of Northern Ohio Rose and Ohio Rose are now being used interchangeably.