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Higgins Named Grand Marshal Of 2010 St. Patrick’s Parade

By Staff | Feb 16, 2010

ST. PAT’S GRAND MARSHAL -- John Higgins of Emmetsburg has been named Grand Marshall of the 50th Annual St. Patrick’s Parade. Darlene Joyce, chairman of the St. Patrick’s Association, is pictured (right) with Higgins and his wife, Linda, and their grandson, Keenan Higgins, the Leprechaun. --Jane Whitmore photo

The Irish of Emmetsburg proudly celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Each year the St. Patrick’s Association solicits nominations for the Parade Grand Marshal. This year, for the 50th annual celebration, Johnny Higgins is the Irishman that will lead the parade.

Letters in support of the nomination came from family and friends, from near and far.

“My daughter actually told me I had been nominated,” said Higgins. “Then the night of the St. Pat’s Board meeting, we got a call to go to the Corner Stone Pub. That’s when I heard the news and we were all there to celebrate.”

Parade Grand Marshal runs in the family. John’s uncle, John Nolan, was Grand Marshal in 1985 and another uncle, Dick Higgins, was Grand Marshal in 2001.

Johnny Higgins is the son of Jeanne and Bernard Higgins. The Higgins family hails from Ireland’s County Sligo. John and Linda Higgins and family traveled to Ireland in 2001, seeing the sites and learning a bit about their heritage.

The proud Irishman, Johnny Higgins promotes his heritage and his home community of Palo Alto County. The letters of nomination contained a common theme: John Higgins is community minded and proud of his Irish heritage.

John and Linda Higgins bring joy to the hearts of many at Christmas. The “Christmas Leprechauns” visit area nursing homes, making sure everyone has a visit from Santa and a gift from the leprechauns. This “Santa” also travels to St. Louis to deliver gifts to underprivileged children.

In his outside sales position for Hitch Doc, John Higgins travels a five-state area. He promotes his product, the St. Patrick’s Celebration, and boasts a bit about his home community.

As proud as he is of Emmetsburg, Higgins is also proud of Ayrshire. He has served as President of Ayrshire Farmers Mutual Telephone Company for many years. He is also active in the Ayrshire community, helping to bring about the new Community Center.

Higgins’ daughter, Molly, refers to her dad, John, as “Emmetsburg’s consummate ambassador.” She wrote, “He is the textbook definition of a pride that is contagious and nobody is prouder of Emmetsburg, Iowa… Dad knows no geographic boundaries when promoting Emmetsburg. We should probably consider the countless people he comes into contact with while traveling both for work and pleasure… Most importantly, he is someone who cares deeply about others. John Higgins is an ‘Irishman’ of the People.”

John’s sister, Joan Higgins Beckman, adds, “John never meets a stranger. His quick smile and handshake engages people readily. His heart is in the community where we were born and raised.”

John and Linda are parents of three children: Molly Higgins of St. Louis, Jeff and Kim Higgins of Denver, and Tim Higgins of Des Moines. Granddaughters Elle and Brenna are daughters of Jeff and Kim. Grandson Keenan is the son of Tim Higgins and Sabrina Hunt. His sister, Joan, lives in Iowa City. All of the family will be home for the 50th St. Patrick’s Celebration this year to celebrate with John and Linda.

John has been active with the St. Patrick’s Association for many years, dating back to the mid-1970s when board members traveled town to town selling Irish derbies, shamrocks and drinking gloves, along with raffle tickets. Their travels would take them from Algona to Fort Dodge, Spencer and Fairmont, promoting the parade and St. Pat’s Celebration to neighboring communities.

“It’s a lot of fun working with the people here,” said Johnny Higgins. “It takes a lot of volunteer work from a lot of dedicated people.”

Irish roots run deep in the Higgins clan, and you never know when a leprechaun will jump out. Four-year-old Keenan Higgins fills that role. He and Grandpa John worked together at a farm show in Des Moines, with Keenan dressed as a leprechaun handing out candy kisses.

John and Linda Higgins will lead the 2010 St. Patrick’s Parade and enjoy all of the festivities of the 50th year celebration.