Dogs adorned with sparkly shamrocks. "Real" men dressed in kilts parading on stage.
These are the popular spectacles at Clover's annual St. Patrick's Day Festival on Main Street, where families come to celebrate Clover's Scots Irish heritage and enjoy carnival rides, rock music and a host of goodies provided by area businesses and organizations.
But the festival also marks a tradition of raising support for special needs programming at the YMCA - not through revelry but through brute strength.
Contestants in the Strong Man Competition and the Leprechaun Leap 5K Fun Run compete each year to raise money for the First Thursday Club, which serves special needs adults from all across York County.
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Offered through the YMCA, the First Thursday Club provides at least three events for special needs adults each month including parties, trips and church events.
Birthday parties, prom dances, trips to the mountains and professional sporting events are just some of the things the club does.
To help raise money, club members ask friends and family to sponsor their own St. Patrick's Day event, when club members - many adorned in leprechaun garb - take their own walk around Clover.
Tom Shealy, a professor of French at Winthrop University, brings his two sons with special needs, ages 37 and 41, to the club.
He says not only his family but the entire community is served by the club, which teaches independence, self-respect, respect for others, good manners, joy, and how to recognize blessings, he said.
Most importantly, it provides an opportunity for adults with special needs to interact regularly with their peers.
"They learn to get along with each other and appreciate each other," he said.
Linda McCallum, manager of the Clover YMCA, started the program more than a decade ago as a way to better serve the special needs population. Now it serves 200 participants in the Upper Palmetto YMCA region.
Club members surpassed their fundraising goal of $6,000 this year by more than $600, McCallum said.
That funding pays for many of the in-town activities the group does. For bigger trips, members and their families pitch in.
Becky Redden, who collected the most sponsors in the fundraiser, has been in the club for nearly a decade. She enjoys everything about the club, especially the trips they take and her friends.
Her mother, Patti Redden, said: "If it weren't for them getting out and doing things" with the club, many adults with special needs would "be home doing nothing."
Ollie Stinson has been a member of the club for years. Working for the York County Board of Disabilities and Special Needs, Stinson helps people with disabilities all the time.
Though it's been difficult raising money lately because of the economy, people still came through to support the club, said Stinson who the club recognized for getting many sponsors.
He helps raise money because it's important "to show how much we appreciate doing this each year," he said.
"There are people out there who need the love and the caring and the appreciation because there are some people who don't have it."
Strong man results
First place - Travis McManus
First place - Tory Campbell
Want to help ?
For more information on the Upper Palmetto YMCA's First Thursday Club, contact Linda McCallum at 803-222-9622 or email@example.com.
Leprechaun Leap 5K winners
Amber Ventola, women 19 and younger
Kristen Dover, women 20 to 39
Jeanne Alf, women 40 and older
Zane Milbradt, men 19 and younger
Chad Stinnett, men 20 to 39
Bryan Alf, men 40 and older and overall winner