The trap has been set.
An inconspicuous shoebox, decorated in shamrocks and other shades of green, was propped up with a pencil. A string wound from the pencil to a pile of shiny coins, with a trail of golden plastic leading right to it.
We were going to catch that leprechaun, we were sure.
The idea had come to Anthony thanks to his grandma. As a now-retired preschool and kindergarten teacher, my mom loved to get her students’ creative juices flowing around St. Patrick’s Day by making little traps to catch the sneaky green men of Irish folklore. Even if the traps were empty, the kids always knew he’d come by, from the little green footprints surrounding their traps (and the little treats he may have left behind.)
When Anthony, her first grandchild was born, she introduced the idea to him.
To get the ideas rolling, she gave him a book, “Leprechaun on the Loose.” The book tells the story of Sydney, who is the only one in his classroom who can see the leprechaun causing mischief day after day. He saves the day with — you guessed it — a clever trap.
Over the years, Anthony and his grandma have made countless contraptions with similar goals. Usually, he’ll ask me to build a few more so we have a better chance of success.
Sometimes, they’re little snares to wrap around a tiny leg. Other times, they’re a balancing box waiting to drop down unexpectedly on a troublesome sprite.
Last year, Anthony made one with a hole cut in the side, in the hope a leprechaun would stumble their way into it, and not be able to find their way out.
We’ve never caught anything yet, though there have always been notes left behind in a taunting voice, and usually a few treats to take the sting away.
But Anthony has a good feeling this year.
His grandma sent him a package of St. Patrick’s Day goodies to help him celebrate. Inside was a baggie filled with pipe cleaners, cardboard tubes, foam shamrocks and green feathers, among other crafty surprises. We set to work on this year’s version of the leprechaun pitfall.
This one featured a false top for the critter to fall into. Covered in green and embellished with all kinds of sparkling treasures, it certainly looks convincing for a few of the wee folk. Inside, a pot of plastic gold coins were the final enticement.
Leading up to the night before St. Patrick’s Day, we’ll surely make some tweaks and adjustments to make the trap more effective. Anthony is confident we’ll get that golden treasure yet.
Or if nothing else, a few pieces of candy in consolation.
Ryan Trares is a senior reporter and columnist for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected]