Assistant Managing Editor
WILBRAHAM Minnechaug Regional High School senior Evan O'Brien is the 2007 Peach King.
He is the recipient of a $750 scholarship that he plans to use toward his education at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this fall.
O'Brien said there are several reasons that he decided to participate in the pageant.
"I had always heard from contestants in previous years that it was a lot of fun. Having a good time and being given an opportunity to take part in my community's traditions appealed to me," O'Brien said. "Then, of course, there was the money. Any help offered for funding my college tuition seems worth it."
But what O'Brien seems to cherish the most is the bonding that comes from experiencing such events with his peers.
"The best part about the Peach King Pageant was the fact that it never actually turned into a serious competition," said O'Brien. "All of the contestants have been friends since elementary school and it was mostly just a bunch of guys making each other laugh and having a good time. It was more of a bonding experience for all of us than a competition."
O'Brien is a go-getter. He has a job after school, is a math tutor and a participant in the National Honor Society, along with a host of other gigs.
"I play football, and this past season I was captain for an incredible team. Football has been the biggest part of my life in terms of athletics, but I have also been part of the indoor and outdoor track teams. I work at a local farm whenever I can get hours in and I also enjoy lifting weights, playing ping-pong, and just having fun in my spare time," he explained.
He plans to continue to play football at Rensselaer and major in mechanical engineering.
Thanks to contributions from the local community, the pageant offered him some additional tuition help.
Peach King Pageant Committee Chair Lindsay Fuller was proud of the donations they received this year.
"We made so much [in donations] we gave money to the other three boys who made it to the top six," Fuller said. "This year we really wanted to thank Mr. Tux. All tuxedos were donated by Mr. Tux. It was a substantial contribution for us. Winners also got gift certificates from Three Sisters Chocolate Shop."
First runner-up Josh Hummel received a $250 scholarship, second runner-up Everett Hanford was awarded $150, and the other three participants received $50.
As O'Brien assumes his duties as Peach King, which includes participating in the annual Peach Festival and parade, his summer will eventually wind down and preparation for the new chapter in his life at college will begin. Even then he said he will have fond memories of his hometown.
"I have countless memories from my four years at Minnechaug. Going [our school's] Superbowl my junior and senior years makes the highlights. Outside of sports, my fondest memories come from all different events. Traveling to Italy and the British Isles with a group from school was amazing, and from these trips I have gained so many close friends," O'Brien said. "Being in a play last year, the Peach King Pageant this year, being the school mascot at sporting events, making new friends, the great teachers, etcetera, all contribute to a very memorable four years at Minnechaug."