Millie the Mill Pond Monster, the dinosaur-like diva of the Saline Celtic Festival who rises from the Saline River each year to delight festivalgoers, is a familiar member of the community. She appeared in the 2009 Saline Holiday parade festooned in holiday lights and a Santa hat; has had a tweed and “Millie Bucks” money named after her; and her image has graced T-shirts and artwork.
Each year two giant “Millie” billboards appear at the east and west entrances to Saline on US-12 to promote the festival and its sponsors; and in 2011 an 8-foot tall portable “Flat Millie” visited various locales around town, including a Celtic Dinner and Whisky Tasting; she also helped to kick off a 5K Celtic race, and took part in the festival’s opening ceremonies.
Her fame has spread across the state, the nation and even the world.
This year, Millie’s monstrous ego may grow even larger: the scaly celebrity – famed nationally and internationally – is being honored as the ‘mascot’ of the 2014 festival.
Allegedly a distant relative of Scotland’s famed Loch Ness monster, Millie was ‘born’ in 2002, when mechanical designer Jim Peters sketched out ideas on a bar napkin in the festival’s Pub Tent. Encouraged by then-Festival Chairman Patrick Little, Peters went on to construct a mechanical monster, 28 feet long and 7 feet high, at his Saline home.
Millie put in her first festival appearance in 2003. “I had no idea back then that she would still be so popular and still going strong,” Peters says. “This is Millie’s 12th year and I thought it was going to be a one-year thing. I’m always amazed.”
Not content with one monster, over the next five years Peters created a “teenage” monster and a baby monster that join their monster mom in roaring at the crowds. In addition to the pulleys operated by volunteers, Peters devised a smoke machine enabling Millie to shoot smoke out her nose.
Millie and her two offspring, Patrick and Moira, will once again be the darlings of the festival that kicks off with a preview party, “Saline ShamRocks the Night,” 5 p.m. to midnight on Friday, July 11. The party will feature Celtic rock from Barleyjuice, and 80s music from The Square Pegz, as well as an Irish Jam Seisun, English Country & Contra Dance, and Irish Ceili Dance. Admission is $5.
Saturday’s festival will run 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., with opening ceremonies at 11 a.m. Mill Pond Park will be filled with Celtic music and dance, Wee Folks activities, pipe bands, Highland athletics, historic re-enactments, jousting knights, textile arts, sheepdog herding and falconry demonstration, and music from RUNA, Jeremy Kittel Band, Prydein, Barleyjuice, Finvarra’s Wren, Fiddlers Restrung, Chelsea House Orchestra, Ann Arbor Celtic Harpers, Celtic Connections and Celtic Jam. Visitors can compete in a Mastodon Celtic Challenge run, as well as the Haggis Hurl, Golf Chipping, and Celtic Clobber.
Tickets at the gate on July 12 are $5 for ages 13 through 17; $15 for adults; free for active military, seniors, and children 12 and younger. Adult tickets are $10 when purchased online at http://salinecelticfestival.org/ or purchased at Saline City Hall the week of the festival. Visit the website for more information on festival events.