Irish overcome election controversy for 52nd annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade

NEW ULM — The Irish in New Ulm will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on Friday, March 17 with the 52nd annual New Ulm St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade is the longest continuous St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the state.

It will go on despite some electoral controversy in the selection of the Grand Marshal, which will be explained later.

The event began in 1966 after three young Irish lawyers, Terry Dempsey, Tom Donnelly and Bill O’Connor decided the dour Germans in New Ulm needed to learn the joy of smiling and laughter. Thus, the first New Ulm St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New Ulm was held.

The parade will start at 5 p.m. at Third South and Minnesota Streets, and proceed the wrong way up Minnesota to the Glockenspiel at 4th North. The parade is open to all, whether they are Irish or German, or even from the six countries on the latest travel ban. All will be considered to be Irish for the day.

The Grand Marshal for the parade will be yours truly, Kevin Sweeney, editor of The Journal. The Irish Queen will be Amanda McKnight Groebner.

Following the parade, all are welcome to join the Gathering of the Clans at Don’s Pub (aka The Kaiserhoff).The event will be held in the Wilhelmina Room and begin immediately after the parade.

The Concord Singers of New Ulm will rename themselves the “O’Concord Singers” for St. Patrick’s Day and will sing traditional Irish music. An Irish art project is available for children who would like to participate.

Entertainment is free and open to the public. Funding is provided by the O’Connor, Dempsey, Donnelly, Guldan, Glawe and Kearney families with additional support from Ground Zero Services and the Gislason & Hunter Law Firm.

(Editor’s note: The preceding information is true. The information following this paragraph could be “alternative facts.”)

The selection of this year’s grand marshal was not without controversy. While Sweeney’s 32 years in New Ulm and 32 years of publishing the St. Patrick’s Day articles make him eminently worthy of the title, the selection process uses an electoral college system. Each Irish clan has a certain number of electoral votes based on the length of their residence in New Ulm, the number of Irish children they have added to the population and the number of times they have marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. This year Sweeney collected enough electoral votes, but trailed in the popular vote.

“I would have won the popular vote, too, if not for all those Hanska Norwegians crossing our southern border and voting,” Sweeney said in a tweet.

Sweeney also accused last year’s Grand Marshal, Brian Filzen, of tapping his beer lines. “But I took care of that. I started pumping Schell’s sour beer through the lines, and that put a quick stop to it.”

This year the Irish in New Ulm are bringing in the TSA to help with crowd control and security. “We are planning for 19,000 spectators, at least,” said Blarney committee member Tom Donnelly. Blarney committee member Pat Kearney will be in charge of the “Pat” downs.

The New Ulm Irish are inviting President Donald J. Trump to town for the annual parade. The Irish are very sympathetic to his complaint that the size of his inauguration crowd was seriously underestimated.

“The New Ulm Police Department has been doing that to us for years,” Dempsey said. “Myron Wieland and the other Germans on the Police Force have trouble counting higher than ten — they run out of fingers after that.”

The Irish are asking Trump to come and survey the crowd.

“Only he will be able to accurately determine the size of the crowd and tell us how YUUUUGE it is,” said Dempsey.

Several other events will take place besides the parade.

• The annual Rope Pushing Contest will be held once again in German Park with several hundred contestants expected. Some Germans had to be disqualified last year for soaking their ropes in sauerkraut juice and letting them dry, which made them stiffer and easier to push. Judges this year will be employing specially trained kraut-sniffing Irish Wolfounds to catch the cheaters.

• Celebrity Bowling Ball Juggling will take place before the parade in German Park. Former mayor and bowling baron Joel Albrecht will take on all comers.

• This year the Irish are bringing back the “Hermann the German Roll Out the Barrel Barrel Roll” challenge for Mayor Beussman at the Hermann Monument. The mayor and other participants will be packed in barrels and rolled down the Center Street hill from Hermann Heights. The first one able to stand after rolling down the hill will win! Wagers can and will be taken and all proceeds will go to the St. Patrick’s Statue fund.

• After that, the 5K Irish Jig will be held through downtown.

• Once again the Irish will be running a zip line from Hermann to Riverfront Park to raise money for the long planned statue of St. Patrick at Hermann Heights Park. This statue will be twice the size of the Hermann monument, an apt representation of St. Patrick’s place in history compared to the heathen German chieftain. The Germans have already asked to use the zip line to hang out their laundry after Fasching is over.

• Speaking of Fasching, the Irish note that the August Schell Brewery has moved its Bock Fest permanently to the first weekend in March, no doubt to take advantage of the large crowds already massing in New Ulm to stake out their positions for viewing the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

• The Irish are continuing their civic leadership by siding with the Friends of Fort Ridgely in their battle with the DNR to keep the golf course open at Fort Ridgely State Park. The Irish were incensed to learn that the DNR had ordered that golf spikes not be allowed on the course because there was too much “wearing of the greens.”

• The Irish are planning to help out District 88 with the completion of the new four-season dome over the athletic field. The dome will be funded by the New Ulm Irish Culture Society, The Blarney committee will hold an extra fund raiser by recycling the candy from the streets after the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Additional donations are welcomed. The Green dome will be made up of 100 percent green parade uniforms and old tuxedo of Pat Sonnek’s.

• The Irish were instrumental in the successful opening of the new ALDI store in New Ulm. The Germans flocked to enjoy the lower prices, only to be discouraged after finding out that to use a shopping cart they needed to insert one of their own quarters. It was a good-hearted Irishman who explained that if you return the cart you get your quarter back!

• This year the Irish note the passing of one of New Ulm’s great Irishmen, Pat Kneefe. For years, Pat and the late Bill O’Connor were the driving force behind the parade and the merriment that went with it. It is with heavy heart the Irish are reassigning Pat to work with Bill on bringing good weather to the parade. Given the massive clap of thunder that was heard at Pat’s funeral while Msgr. Douglas Grams was delivering his eulogy, the committee feels Pat may have even more influence than Bill on meteorological matters.

• The annual Double-Done Nothing award is being presented once again to Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature for their lack of activity on completing the Highway 14 project all the way to New Ulm.

The Irish ask everyone to remember to “Jig, Not Jog” on St. Patrick’s Day, and to remember that Don Brand, no matter how much he tries, will never truly be Irish.


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