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A sure sign of Lephrechaun Days

In the next week or so, a familiar symbol will pop up to provide one of the early signs that it's almost time for Leprechaun Days.

Need a hint? It's small and round, and if you're not careful it might poke you.

Rosemount's seniors have been selling the official Leprechaun Days button for as long as anybody can remember. They work with local businesses to find prizes, then draw a few lucky button buyers in early August to distribute them.

The project has become one of the seniors' biggest and most successful fundraisers, but it takes some work to pull it off. Mel Engle is in his first year as chairman of the button sales committee, but he's been involved in the process for the past four years. It's his job to make sure there are enough prizes donated, and that the buttons get to the locations around town where they are sold before and during Leprechaun Days. He also helps organize seniors' efforts to get out to the Leprechaun Days events and sell the buttons in person.

"We go to all these events around that they've got," Engle said. "It isn't a big project if you can get enough people to help, but sometimes you can't get enough people to help."

Most years the seniors sell about 1,600 buttons at a dollar each. Sales were down by about 200 last year, Engle said, but that might be because nobody contacted donors to collect prizes for the drawing.

Money raised through the Leprechaun Days button sales goes into the Rosemount Area Seniors' general fund. It is used, among other things, to pay for the bus that takes seniors on outings to lunch or to the theater. Future funds might also go to expenses associated with a planned senior center to be built as part of a senior housing complex on the site of the former St. Joseph School, or to helping pay for a coordinator for the senior program.

The button sale can be a big job. Engle and some other volunteers spent more than three hours recently attaching the drawing numbers to 1,400 buttons. Then they have to get the buttons out to the businesses that sell them, and check on sales from time to time until Leprechaun Days is over.

Engle doesn't seem to mind the work, though. He particularly likes getting out and doing some selling.

"I talk to people," he said. "I'm out there talking to people anyhow, trying to get them going."

Buttons will be available this year at Rosemount city hall, Terry's Hardware, Suzy's Kitchen, Walgreens, Cub and Holiday, among other places. For more information or to donate a drawing prize, call Engle at 651-322-2210.