Knoxville’s St. Patrick’s Parade has been blessed to feature wonderful Grand Marshals each year of our parades.
2023: Leanne Morgan
After 22 years in comedy, Leanne Morgan has cemented herself as a must watch comedian. Leanne was feeling the lure of Hollywood after graduating high school, but the idea of moving there was unheard of and too daunting fora country girl who had never been away from home. She enrolled in college at The University of Tennessee, where she graduated (by the skin of her teeth) with a degree in Child and Family Studies.
Leanne finally had access to comedy clubs when her family moved to San Antonio in 2001, and her career in comedy quickly started to skyrocket. Leanne’s comedy has landed her at the prestigious Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal and has brought her development deals for her own sitcom with ABC and Warner Brothers, writer/producer Matt Williams (Rosanne and Home Improvement) and, TV Land. Leanne has garnered over 2 million followers across social media and her popular stand-up special, So Yummy has reached over 50 million views on YouTube.
Her fan base continues to grow with her relatability as she discusses everything from being a housewife, sharing Jell-O recipes to having a new grandbaby. She has appeared on The Kelly Clarkson Show, ABC’s The View, Nick at Nite’s Funniest Mom and toured with the Southern Fried Chicks. Now that her children are grown, Leanne is currently on The Big Panty Tour for her 100-show theater run across the U.S. with Outback Presents. In December 2022, Leanne taped her first special for a major streaming platform and will be back on the road with her next 100-show theatre and arena “Just Getting Started” tour with Outback Presents in 2023.
Biography provided by leannemorgan.com
2022: Chris Blue
Chris Blue, a Knoxville native, is the 2017 Season 12 winner of The Voice. He began singing in church at age 3 and never looked back. Chris won the Voice-Off Knoxville competition in 2015, then toured locally as well as in England, The Bahamas, Jamaica and the Virgin Islands. He attended Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, TN, and was actively involved in the campus worship ministry as well as the campus gospel choir.
Chris auditioned in 2017 to compete in season 12 of The Voice. In the blind auditions, broadcast on March 14, 2017 on NBC, he sang “The Tracks of My Tears” from The Miracles. He won the title for the season.
Since then he has released albums: One Light, Fresh Start, Accomplished, The Complete Season 12 Collection (The Voice Performance).
Chris and his wife, Stephanie, have one daughter, Alina-Dior.
Listen to Chris Blue on Apple Music >
2020: Leanne Morgan
Leanne Morgan exudes southern charm. She is a naturally funny story teller who gives an honest look at suburban life and the challenges of keeping her husband happy while juggling kids, dogs and cheerleading camp at the same time she’s racing to get her hair highlighted, have a colonoscopy and join weight watchers for the 7th time! Leanne will take you on a hilarious journey through motherhood and beyond as she finds comedy amidst the chaos. Leanne’s funny but honest point of view has earned her spots on the Dr. Phil show as part of his “advice panel.” She’s also worked with Paula Deen both “Live” in theaters as well as numerous appearances on her cooking shows. Leanne was chosen by The View as one of their most hilarious housewife’s and she was a finalist on Nick at Nite’s Funniest Mom in America. She has also had contracts with Warner Brothers and ABC to develop a sitcom based on her comedy and is currently collaborating with writer/producer Matt Williams (“Roseanne,” “Home Improvement”) and Lionsgate on a ½ hour sitcom. Leanne is heard daily on Sirius / XM Comedy Channels and has appeared in comedy clubs, performing arts centers, and theatres across the country. In addition to her solo stand up career, she toured with the “Southern Fried Chicks” for three years and is currently part of a new comedy tour called “Country Cool.”
Biography provided by leannemorgan.com
2019: Roland Martin
Roland Martin is an American professional sport fisherman. He is the host of Fishing with Roland Martin on the NBCSN television channel. Fishing in 291 tournaments, his BASSMASTER career includes the following achievements – 19 tournaments won, 9 B.A.S.S. Angler-of-the-Year titles, nearly 100 Top Ten finishes, and 25 appearances in bass fishing’s world championship event, the Bassmaster Classic. Also a record, Martin has 19 second place BASS finishes. Martin’s career tournament winnings exceeded one million dollars in 2004. Martin was the first professional bass fisherman to be inducted into all three Halls of Fame (IGFA Hall of Fame, Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, Professional Bass Fishing Hall of Fame). In a July 2005 survey for the “Greatest Angler”, Roland was voted second (to Rick Clunn), hurt by his lack of a Classic championship. He is also good friends with fellow fishermen Bill Dance and Jimmy Houston and they appear many times on his show. With them, Roland formed the company Th3 Legends to sell signature products. Roland popularized the concept of “pattern” fishing – determining a particular way to catch fish for a given time and lake and then applying it to similar locations around that lake. Martin has been an able and enthusiastic spokesman for bass fishing, conservation and the pursuit of the American dream for decades, generating a large following of fans.
Biography provided by David Muinde, August 15, 2019
2018: The Honorable, Tim Irwin
Former Vikings offensive tackle Tim Irwin is 6 feet 7, 300 pounds, so it’s a good fit when he sometimes dresses as Santa Claus during the Christmas season.
Irwin, though, doesn’t need a Santa suit.
Irwin, who played right tackle for the Vikings from 1981-93 and was named one of the “50 Greatest Vikings” during the team’s 50th season in 2010, has been a Knox County Juvenile Court judge since 2005.
It is a demanding job. Many of his cases involve having to take children away from parents because of problems in the home and place them in foster homes.
Irwin, though, is known for the benevolent manner in which he deals with kids going through the trauma of legal proceedings. In his court, staff give stuffed animals to kids, and therapy dogs help put youngsters more at ease.
The Knoxville native has worked tirelessly to benefit youth in the community. Irwin, is on the board of directors for the Boys & Girls Clubs, and for the past 29 years has held a fishing tournament that has raised more than $1 million for the organization.
Irwin helped found the Catholic Youth Football League in Knoxville in 2002. One of his players was an eighth-grader named Harrison Smith, now a star safety for the Vikings.
Irwin joined the Vikings as a third-round draft pick out of Tennessee and earned his law degree while still a player. After finishing his NFL career with Miami and Tampa Bay in 1994, he embarked on a successful career as a lawyer and NFL agent.
Biography provided by Chris Tomasson, Pioneer Press