When the Rev. Steve Norden moved to Dublin from Kalamazoo, Michigan, he was asked to be the founding pastor of New Hope Church.

Decades later, Norden is still with that church, 4739 W. Powell Road in Powell, and still serving others -- both in his capacity has volunteer chaplain with the Dublin police department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and as the announcer at Dublin Scioto High School football games.

Now, Norden will be recognized for his efforts with a key role at one of Dublin's most-popular events.

As Grand Leprechaun, Norden will lead Dublin's St. Patrick's Day Celebration Parade, which will step off at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 16.

The 66-year-old Dublin resident said he was surprised and humbled by his role.

Norden said he still remembers the first Dublin St. Patrick's Day Parade he attended on moving to the city in the 1980s. The parade boasted one high school band and a few floats -- "significantly different," he said, than the city's parades now.

Dublin's St. Patrick's Day parades now typically feature more than 100 entries, including marching bands, dancers, acrobats, equestrian units and floats.

While the city's festivities have grown over time, so too has Norden's family. He and his wife, Jean, have three boys -- Billy, 36, Charlie, 34 and Pieter, 29 -- who are graduates of Dublin Scioto High School.

Norden still serves the school his sons attended. Since 1995, he has been the announcer at football games. He first began the practice in fall 1984, when he started serving as the voice of Dublin (now Dublin Coffman) Shamrock football prior to the opening of Scioto High School.

Norden said he has enjoyed relationships he built over the years with coaches and players. "It's just fun to watch those guys play," he said.

Norden has also served as a source of support during more serious times.

His role as Dublin police chaplain, he said, is an opportunity to serve the community, especially when he can assist officers in delivering bad news.

"If I can be a caring presence in those moments, it's rewarding," he said.

The spiritual and emotional guidance and support Norden gives the city is irreplaceable, said Greg Peterson, Dublin's mayor.

"The contribution that he makes to our community day in and day out is greatly appreciated," he said.

The celebration

The St. Patrick's Day Celebration in Dublin kicks off with the Dublin Lions Club pancake breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. Saturday, March 16, at Sells Middle School, 150 W. Bridge St. The breakfast costs $6 for adults and $4 for children. The Inflation Celebration will begin at 9:30 a.m. at Graeter's Ice Cream, 6255 Frantz Road.

Folks can gather in the parking lot at the business to watch the inflation of the large Shamrock balloons and others that are part of the parade.

The parade steps off at 11 a.m., traveling from Metro Place north on Frantz Road, east on Bridge Street (state Route 161), south on High Street and ending at Waterford Drive. The approximately 1-mile procession typically lasts about 90 minutes.

For more information, visit www.dublinohiousa.gov.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah