Banquet Closes Out St. Pats Activities
With pledges of memories for a lifetime and a sincere invitation to visit the Emerald Isle, the 2008 edition of St. Patrick’s week in Emmetsburg concluded Sunday evening with the annual St. Pat’s Banquet at Iowa Lakes Community College. A good crowd was on hand to enjoy a final evening of fellowship with the Irish Dignitary, David Stanton and his wife Mary, before their return to Ireland.
As he thanked the St. Pat’s Association for their invitation to visit Emmetsburg, Stanton admitted that when he was first contacted about coming to Emmetsburg, he sought out a colleague in the Dail who had also visited Emmetsburg.
“After I got that first invitation, I talked with David Connaghy, who visited here in 1995, and he told me that Emmetsburg was the coldest place on Earth,” Stanton admitted with a chuckle to the crowd. “But he also told me I would be very impressed with the people, and he wasn’t exaggerating. But you’ve hardly been cold – your warmth and generosity have given Mary and I such wonderful memories to take home with us. And, your most thoughtful gifts, well, we’ll probably need an extra suitcase.”
Stanton spoke of the memories he will treasure of the friendliness and the work ethic of Iowans. “You work very hard, but yet, your kindness and friendliness equal your hard work, and I shall tell my colleagues of all these wonderful experiences.”
As he reflected over his visit, Stanton encouraged those present to visit Ireland, promising that the Irish people would be most receptive to meet their American counterparts. “Ireland is a peaceful place now after many years of strife, and the peace is wonderful. We would welcome all of you to come and join us and want you to know that you all will be welcomed 100,000 times over to visit us in County Cork, the real capital of Ireland.”
Along with the Stantons, a special treat at the banquet was provided by a group of the Irish Dancers, who made their twelfth performance of the week. Along with their routine, the dancers showed several authentic dance steps, including the ‘ball and chain’ to the audience. At the conclusion of their performance, Whitney Kibbie presented the Stantons with a gift on behalf of the Irish Dancers.
The 2008 St. Pat’s Grand Marshal, John O’Leary, thanked the Association for the honor bestowed upon him, and also thanked Master of Ceremonies Rick Brennan and his wife Diane for nominating him for the honor. “It was totally unexpected, but I want to thank everyone for the wonderful experience. It’s been a great honor to be the Grand Marshal.”
St. Pat’s Association Mickey Conlon paid tribute to the various chairs of the Association, as well as the countless volunteers who make the celebration the success that it is.
“I got involved in St. Pat’s 30-some years ago when they asked me to be a courtesy car driver, and ever since, its’ been a labor of love to bring this celebration to the people,” Conlon said. “But it isn’t Mickey that does this. Without everyone working together, St. Pat’s wouldn’t happen. It’s everyone’s celebration and everyone deserves a huge thank-you.”
The Stantons were presented with several gifts, including a stained glass “Key to the City” created by Lee Beem and presented by Emmetsburg Mayor John Schad, who told the Stantons the key would open everything in Emmetsburg anytime they wanted to return and visit.
State Representative Marcie Frevert presented a framed work made from timbers of an old barn from Palo Alto County, while State Senator Jack Kibbie presented the Stantons with gifts, including a necktie for David Stanton. “I hope you’ll be allowed to wear an Iowa tie in the Dail,” Kibbie said and Stanton laughed in delight.
Following a benediction by Pastor Jim Morris of the United Methodist Church, Master of Ceremonies Rick Brennan brought St. Pat’s 2008 to its official conclusion.