The Irish march on, undeterred

Staff photo by Kevin Sweeney Tom Donnelly, one of the founders and organizers of the New Ulm St. Patrick’s Day Parade, poses with the “Masked Leprechaun,” who will be participating in the parade this year.

NEW ULM — The Irish in New Ulm will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday, holding the 54th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade at 5 p.m., marching the wrong way up Minnesota Street from 3rd South to the Glockenspiel.

The parade will be held on Sunday, not Friday or Saturday, because St. Patrick’s Day is March 17, no matter which day of the week it falls on.

“It’s tradition,” said Tom Donnelly, one of the founders and organizers of the parade. “If people want to start celebrating early, that’s up to them. But it is first and foremost a religious holiday, and it is entirely appropriate to hold it on Sunday.”

The Irish Queen for the parade will be Janet Dempsey, and her husband, Terry, will be the grand marshal of the parade. The theme for the parade this year will be, “Let the Shenanigans Begin.”

(Editor’s note: The information in the first four paragraphs of this article is guaranteed to be factual. That guarantee does not hold for any of the following information.)

Donnelly said the parade will be held rain or shine, or snow or shine. The huge amounts of snow New Ulm has received in the past month will not deter the Irish and their friends from celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with the annual parade.

“Who cares about snow?” said Donnelly. “This is Minnesota, and Minnesotans are tough.”

Besides, ever since the late New Ulm Blarneymeister, Bill O’Connor, was put in charge of the weather for the parade after his passing, the temperatures have been moderate.

Donnelly points out that the parade travels the wrong way up Minnesota Street, because the prevailing winds in March are usually from that direction. So the marchers will always have the wind at their backs, in accord with the old Irish blessing, “May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back…”

St. Patrick’s Day is always a good time to recount the many benefits and advantages the Irish have brought upon New Ulm.

This year the Irish are proposing a “Green New Deal” to the city. It has nothing to do with the ecological plan that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is proposing for the nation. This Green New Deal will propose to the city that the dirty dish rags that the Narren hang from lampposts for Fasching be replaced with resplendent green banners that will give New Ulmites reason to be proud of their city.

The Irish are also applying for a grant from the Don Brand Foundation for Common Sense For A Change to fund a study on whether Irish Whiskey or Schell’s Beer is a better alternative fuel than gasoline.

“Instead of griping in the paper all the time about how much more expensive gasoline is in New Ulm than it is in Mankato, Don could fund this study that could possibly result in breweries or distilleries that double as filing stations,” said Donnelly.

The grant would be used for the purchase of large quantities of whiskey and beer to be used for “testing.”

Donnelly was asked whether the Irish were upset by the fact that no people of Irish-American descent are being considered for the new City Manager position.

“No, that doesn’t bother us,” said Donnelly. “As Bill O’Connor always said, we’d much rather work quietly behind the scenes, to guide the Germans in town and let them think they’re really in charge.”

The Irish will be working with the city on economic development issues as well. One idea is to study whether Buckthorn trees, which are the nemesis of Dr. Ellen Vancura, can be used as a suitable alternative to Irish Blacktorn trees in making shillelaghs and walking sticks. If so, New Ulm could convert one of its empty business or industrial buildings into a Shillelagh factory.

“This would turn this invasive plant that nobody cares for into a valuable asset for the city, and the source of hundreds of jobs,” said Donnelly.

St. Patrick’s Day Events

The usual wide range of events held on St. Patrick’s Day has been trimmed back to make time for the many religious services that will be held throughout the day to honor the saint who converted the Irish people to Christianity.

The annual medallion hunt will not be held, since it was hidden so well last time that not even the medallion hiders can remember where it is. No one ever found it before, anyway.

The annual Sauerkraut Burying contest is being canceled since the Environmental Protection Agency is worried about the impact on the area’s groundwater, especially with the heavy snow and spring runoff this year.

A special addition to the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration is the Masked Leprechaun, who will be participating in the parade and the festivities at the Gathering of the Clans later on. If anyone can guess the identity of the Masked Leprechaun, they will receive either a pot of gold or a six-pack of Schell’s Beer, whichever it cheaper.

A new event will be held in German Park — the St. Patrick’s Day Snowblower Starting Contest. Contestants will be given snowblowers with rope pull starters, and the contest will be to see how many pulls it takes before the contestants figure out the snowblowers have no fuel in the tanks.

There will be the annual 5K Irish Jig at the Glockenspiel, and the Annual Hermann the German Roll Out the Barrell Barrell Roll, in which Mayor Bob Beussman is placed in a barrel in Hermann Heights Park and rolled down the Center Street Hill, to see how deep a shade of green he turns.

The Gathering of the Clans will be held immediately following the Parade at Jan’s Pub, (the Kaiserhoff, renamed for the day). The festivities will feature a concert of Irish music by the O’Concord Singers, and the unmasking of the Masked Leprechaun, who will dance the Irish Jig on the bar at Jan’s Pub at midnight to bring the festivities to a close.