Standing at 5 feet 2 inches, Fort Wayne firefighter Troy Egts was born to be Lucky.
For 12 years, Egts’ alter ego, Lucky the Leprechaun, has been the holiday mascot for the Get Green Festival hosted by the Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters union. The festival will take place Saturday along the Wells Street Corridor.
“I’ve been training for this job my entire life,” Egts says.
Born and raised in Fort Wayne, Egts joined the Fort Wayne Fire Department in 2001, a year after the first Get Green Festival. When Egts was approached to be Lucky, the rookie gladly obliged. John Sierra, festival coordinator, says there’s no question Egts is the “perfect man” for the job.
“Everybody loves him,” Sierra says.
Donning a luminous green firefighter helmet and matching green suit, Egts will spend almost 10 hours in costume, including prosthetic ears and beard. His day includes the 5-Kilt Run/Walk, riding the parade route, and greeting and taking pictures with fans in the main tent. Egts says he enjoys his one day of attention, but he likes that not many people would recognize him out of costume.
“That day, I’m not me anymore,” Egts says. “When the suit goes on, He (Lucky) has his own personality. That way, I can’t get in trouble for anything.”
The festival has gradually expanded over the years. This will be the second year the festival has been located along the Wells Street Corridor. In past years, the festival began at the old Wells Street Bridge for the greening of the St. Marys River. After the river greening, the festival would move to Headwaters Park West Pavilion for other events.
With the 13-year-old festival now drawing thousands, Sierra says moving to Wells Street has given the event more of a central location and a larger venue.
“We needed something bigger,” Sierra says. “The Wells Street Corridor is absolutely perfect.”
The festival features the Stout Barbell strongman competition, a Lucky Charms cereal eating contest, along with a play area and Lucky’s gold coin drop for children. The main tent will serve Irish food and green beer with live performances in the evening for those ages 18 and older.
All proceeds made during the festival go toward a number of charitable organizations like the FWFD/FWPD Fallen Hero Fund, breast cancer research and the Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters’ scholarship fund. Sierra expects at least 10,000 people.
“We definitely want families to come out because we have so many events,” Sierra says. “You can bring out your kids during the day, and come back at night.”
Egts says most firefighters are “big kids at heart,” which makes his interaction with families that much more rewarding. He says he hopes the festival grows even bigger in the coming years.
“It’s a really cool family-friendly day, and it’s nice for the department,” Egts says. “Every firefighter loves their job, and it’s nice to give back.”
Now more than a decade later, Egts says he’s beginning to think about recruiting for the next Lucky the Leprechaun, but he doesn’t have any plans to put down the green helmet just yet.
“There’s a strict learning curve to being a leprechaun,” Egts says.