Wee NEJC residents among Irish dancers leading St. Patrick’s Parade — and heading to world championships

If you happen to be downtown this weekend for Kansas City’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, be sure to get a good look at the spirited group of young dancers at the front of the pack.

Because the eight 8-12 year olds who will be among the leaders of the parade will be heading to Boston, Mass., later this month for the Irish Dance World Championships. Four of the eight dancers on the team are from northeast Johnson County: Michael Adamson, Leawood; Josephine Cotton, Mission Hills; Mary Katherine Gallagher, Prairie Village; and Leah Mailand, Leawood.

What’s more, the group is the first team from the Kansas City metro to ever qualify for the event, which teacher Emily McCarty describes as “basically the Olympics of Irish dance.”

“It’s quite an amazing accomplishment for such a young team to qualify,” said McCarty, who teaches the team at the O’Riada-McCarty-Manning academy in Westwood. “To qualify for the World Championships as a solo competitor it takes discipline, hard work and determination. For a team it takes all those things plus teamwork. And this group of very young dancers has it

The St. Patrick’s Day parade begins at 11 a.m. Sunday in Midtown at Linwood and 43rd Street.