Irish townsfolk prepare to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

NEW ULM – The most beloved ethnic group in New Ulm (Editor’s Note: We said most beloved, not the most numerous) will again be celebrating the biggest holiday of the year in New Ulm (right behind Christmas and Easter) – St. Patrick’s Day.

The 49th annual New Ulm St. Patrick’s Day Parade is being held on Monday, March 17, at 5 p.m. The parade starts at Third South and Minnesota Street (right in front of Terry Dempsey’s house) and will proceed the wrong way up Minnesota Street to the Glockenspiel at 4th North and Minnesota Street. (Editor’s second note: This paragraph, at least, is factual. Believe the rest of this article at your own risk.)

“This makes the parade twice as long as the German-American Parade, in case anyone is keeping track,” said Dempsey, one of the chairmen of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee.

And unlike the German-American parade, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is open to all races and nationalities, said Tom Donnelly, another member of the Committee, and with Dempsey one of the co-founders of longest uninterrupted St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Minnesota.

In fact, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade usually contains more Germans than the German American Parade, said Pat Kearney, the third member of the Blarney Triumvirate.

“Yes, the Germans wait all year for St. Patrick’s Day,” said Kearney. “It gives them the one excuse to have fun. How boring it must be to be German! There is one individual whose life is so boring he lives to tell the story every year how 34 years ago he saved the New Ulm St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Thank you Don Brand, for the 35th time. And once again you will be in the running for the coveted ‘Done Nothing’ award!”

This year’s event, with the health-conscious theme of “Don’t Jog – Jig,” will go on as usual on Monday, with all the usual activities and a few new ones.

The Irish Committee had hoped to have Monday declared an official national holiday and make it a three-day weekend, but city, county and post office workers all agreed in a survey that they have enough holidays and would feel guilty about taking any more time off.

There will be a float contest and a new event, the Leprechaun Look-Alike contest as well. The Parade Committee would like to invite all businesses that have a car with advertising on it to participate. “Where else can you get such free advertising?” said Kearney. “Trucks are welcome as well!”

The first prize in the float contest, as usual, will be a six-pack of Schell’s Beer. The second place prize is two six-packs.

The crowd is expected to be between 12,000 to 13,000. It’s hard to get an accurate count from the New Ulm Police Department, which only has so many fingers and toes to count on.

The Leprechaun Look-Alike Contest will be held at noon at the Chamber of Commerce office. There were hundreds of entries, but most people pulled out when it was learned that George Glotzbach was planning on dying his lederhosen green and entering. “We think George is part gnome,” said Dempsey. “His resemblance to gnomes and leprechauns is uncanny. He will probably win by default.”

The annual St. Patrick’s Day “Gathering of the Clans” Dinner and Celebration will be at Don and Jan’s Pub (better known as the Kaiserhoff) right after the parade. Be sure to get your reservations in early. The O’Concord Singers will be performing as always for about 45 minutes. If they sing any longer, they all turn Irish for the rest of the year and have trouble remembering their German lyrics.

This year the Irish again have the pleasure of having a husband and wife team as the Grand Marshal and Irish Queen. This year, New Ulm’s very own Mayor Bob Beussman and his IRISH wife Cheryl will be guests of honor at the pageantry.

“On a serious note we have to recognize two great New Ulm Germans who have been taken from us to spend time in glory,” the committee said. “These two men have spent many decades celebrating with the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day – Don Veigel and Jim Gulden. One hosted the St. Patrick’s Day dinner for over 45 years and the other was IBM (Irish by marriage). Our loss is the good Lord’s gain.”

The Irish also noted the pending retirement of Terry Sveine from the New Ulm Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s about time,” said Donnelly. “I don’t know what he actually does there, but after the fiasco with Hermann’s Footprint, where he had to admit to the AP that the story about how it was found was made up for a publicity stunt, he probably should retire. If there’s anything we Irish can’t stand, it is exaggeration and hyperbole. We firmly believe in always telling the truth, and nothing but the truth.”

The annual Rope Pushing Contest is being expanded. New Ulm will be hosting the Upper Midwest Regional Rope Pushing Contest on the 17th.

“We are expecting 1,500 to 2,000 rope pushers in town that day,” said Dempsey. “Be sure to be in Irish Park (German Park is renamed for the day) by 1 p.m. for this next to Olympic competition, and to see some of the best rope pushers in the country.”

At 2 p.m. there will be a community issues debate at Turner Hall. Randy Danielson and Rick Howk have agreed to discuss the topic of “How Kind Words and Gentle Persuasion Can Be Used for the Betterment of the Community.”

The annual 5K Irish Jig will be held at 3 p.m. in Harman Park. Only this year it will be a Zero-K, jig-in-place event. In the past, the streets of New Ulm were so crowded with celebrants that the 5K Irish Jig ran into too many traffic jams.

Now that Mayor Irish Bob is the head of the Highway 14 task force, things are moving quickly on that front. “We have been promised that there will be a four-lane Highway 14 for next year’s 50th annual St. Patrick’s day celebration,” said Kearney. The extra lanes will be necessary to handle the extra crowds of people showing up for the 50th annual parade.

This has been a big building year in New Ulm, and the Irish have plans to finally build the statue of St. Patrick. They hope to locate it on a spot somewhere between the Hermann Monument and the new Catholic Diocesan Center. The location would be symbolic of St. Patrick being a bridge between the heathen barbarianism represented by Hermann the German and the Christian enlightenment represented by the Catholic Church.

With a new water tower in Nehls Park (also known as the Pot at the End of the Rainbow), the Germans had a contest to name the tower. This year’s winner was from one of the many good New Ulm Irish. the tower is called “The Riverdance!”

New Year’s Eve saw a near tragedy when Mother Mary O’Connor was taken by ambulance to the emergency room after a small mishap at her home. She was demonstrating her famous dancing on the Kaiserhoff bar at midnight (really 8:30 p.m.) and when she went to do her signature back flip off the bar she mistepped. She went to catch herself and broke her wrist. Being fully recovered, she has started training for her bar dance at next year’s 50th celebration. Call Mary for more details.

This last year New Ulm’s top cop, the Irish blood brother Myron Wieland, single-handedly apprehended a driver and her out-of-control vehicle, saving numerous lives and properties for the good citizens of our fair city, earning him the annual Irish Cop of the Year award.

This past year the Germans celebrated the 150th year anniversary of the New Ulm Battery and 125th year anniversary of the Hermann Monument. They did a fantastic job with the fireworks. They were high in quality and quantity, and on time. With a very large gathering of Irish expected to watch the 50th annual event next year, the Irish have volunteered to help the city out by offering the 50th annual St. Patrick’s Day as the best time to have these fireworks!

This is only one of the community improvement projects proposed by the Irish. They plan on taking over the Marktplatz Mall and turning it into an Irish Cultural Center, with a mini-Guinness Brewery on one end, and the empty shops turned into studios and workshops for teaching Irish dancing, Gaelic language lessons and harp-making.

And, the Irish plan to recruit an Irish dermatologist, Dr. Aloysius “Freckles” O’Toole, to help fill up some of the extra space in the New Ulm Medical Center clinic expansion. This skin specialist will be most helpful in dealing with the annual epidemic of inner thigh chafing that comes in the summer from wearing lederhosen while doing the polka in the hot sun during Bavarian Blast.

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