Happy St. Patrick’s Day
The sun shone brightly on Emmetsburg over the St. Patrick’s Celebration weekend as huge crowds turned out for events celebrating the 49 th annual celebration of Irish heritage in Emmetsburg. The 2009 edition of St. Pat’s came to a close Sunday evening with the annual banquet, but from start of the celebration to finish, one theme was most apparent – celebrating Irish pride.
Nowhere was Irish Pride easier to find than in Saturday’s parade, which took to Broadway with over 80 different units.
“I thought the parade was another success,” noted Dave VanOosbree, parade chair for the St. Pat’s Association. “There was something for everyone and I think it went very well.”
The Pre-Parade opened the afternoon’s event, as the various visiting dignitaries and special guests motored down Broadway, following the traditional green stripe down the center of the parade route. A special entry for the pre-parade was a rider less horse, led down the parade route by Kay Hofstad of Emmetsburg. The entry paid tribute to the 2009 Grand Marshal and Chairman of the St. Pat’s Association, Mickey Conlon, who died a week prior to the start of the celebration. Members of Conlon’s family were honored guests of the celebration through the week, and Dan Conlon, speaking on behalf of the Conlon family, told the parade crowd that the Grand Marshal’s sash the Mickey would have worn during the celebration was buried with him. “That sash was his prized possession, and we know that today, Mickey has his sash on and is waiting for this parade to begin.”
Irish dignitary John Carty and his wife Katherine were driven in a horse-drawn carriage down the parade route, and were joined on the reviewing stand by State Senators John Kibbie, Dick Dearden and Daryl Beall, along with State Representatives Marcie Frevert, Delores Mertz and Helen Miller. Also attending were Iowa State Auditor Dave Vaudt and Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro.
The Friendly Sons of Ireland also held a place in the pre-parade, with representation of the McNally, Murray, McCain, Brennan, Higgins, Neary, Nolan, Joyce and Joynt families marching and waving to the crowds lining both sides of Broadway.
The pre-parade concluded with performances by the Celtic Cuties and the Irish Dancers, as they performed in front of the reviewing stand, and Anna Brennan singing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” to start the official parade.
St. Patrick made an appearance in the parade, in the form of Emmetsburg resident Marge Mills, dressed as the patron saint of Ireland. The Miss Shamrock titleholders, Justine Wagner, Kendall Deitering, Hannah Van Heuvelen and Riley Shryock, smiled and waved their way along the parade route on the St. Pat’s Association float.
Holy Family Parish provided a float pulled by a red (but temporarily blarney colored) tractor with Father Clem Currans at the wheel, followed by Blarney catchers with a giant net. The Robert Emmet Society featured Emmetsburg native Bill Henry representing the Irish patriot and namesake of the community. There were clowns galore, including a visit from Ronald McDonald, who was thrilled to realize he was seeing famous people on the reviewing stand.
A parade has to have a band, and perennial crowd favorites the Brian Boru Pipe Band once again marched, with the skirl of the pipes filling the air throughout the parade route. And for good measure, the Emmetsburg High School and Middle School Bands joined forces to march in the parade and favor the crowds.
Various businesses and groups offered floats, along with representatives of fire departments in the county, including Emmetsburg’s 1916 fire engine, a fixture in the St. Pat’s parades, complete with Dalmatian dog on board. The Mallard and Rodman fire departments also participated, along with the West Bend Fire Department, showing off their newly acquired pumper/tanker unit.
The traditional close to the parade came in the form of the Pony Express Riders of Palo Alton County. With flags flying proudly, the Pony Express Riders stretched their columns of horses for nearly three blocks as they rode along the parade route.