St. Patrick’s Day to have Heart Healthy Theme

March 13, 2011

By Kevin Sweeney – Journal Editor, © The Journal

(Editor’s Note: The Journal will stand behind the accuracy of the parade information in this article. Believe everything else at your own risk.)

NEW ULM – With concern for the health and well-being of New Ulm ever in their hearts, the city’s Irish will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on Thursday with a special health-related theme and heart-healthy activities.

The organizers of this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade have selected a new theme – “If Kraut is a Vegetable, then Guinness is Medicine.” The theme will be proudly displayed on green T-shirts that will be seen during the parade. The shirts can be purchased from committee member Pat Kearney for $20.

“Hey – it’s a fundraiser!” said Kearney a bit defensively, when asked about the price.

This will be the 46th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New Ulm, making it the longest consecutive Irish event in the state. The event was first organized by three Irish attorneys in New Ulm, Bill O’Connor, Tom Donnelly and Terry Dempsey. O’Connor died three years ago, but Donnelly and Dempsey carry on the tradition with the help of Kearney and Bill O’Connor’s son Dan.

“He’s been trying to take credit for the parade ever since,” said Kearney. “So this year we have decided to honor Don by naming a new award after him. The Don Brand Award will be given each year to the person who thinks he or she has done the most for New Ulm.”

Coincidentally, the first recipient will be Don Brand.

The parade, as always, will be held at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 17. Parade Units will gather at Third South and Minnesota Street, in front of Dempsey’s house, and proceed the wrong way up Minnesota Street to the Glockenspiel.

The Grand Marshal of the parade will be Tom Donnelly, who has been waiting 46 years for the honor. Brenda Guldan will be the Irish Festival Queen.

The annual Gathering of the Clans Banquet, with entertainment by the O’Concord Singers, will be held following the parade at Don’s Pub better known as the Kaiserhoff, renamed for the day by special arrangement with the owner, Don Veigl. (By the way, Veigl reported recently that someone called his establishment and asked if he had any Wild Duck. Don said he didn’t, but he would be glad to irritate a tame one for them.)

In connection with the Heart of New Ulm, the Irish have added a special event. The first ever 5K Irish Jig will start at the base of the Hermann Monument at 4 p.m. and will conclude at the beginning of the Parade Route.

Other heart-healthy activities include the annual Rope Pushing Contest at 3 p.m. in Irish Park (German Park is renamed for the day). The annual Sauerkraut Burying Contest will begin at 3:15 and will continue until all of the kraut in town is gone, so resident are asked to search their cupboards and bring what they can to Irish Park.

“This event was so popular last year that we will also be burying Lutefisk,” said Kearney. “We are hoping no one lets the MPCA know about this because we could get in trouble for polluting the soil and groundwater.”

However, the Irish believe the improvement in air quality will more than make up for the soil and water pollution.

The first St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl will start at Don’s Pub at 4:30 p.m. and make its way through the pub district until it reaches the parade starting point.

The “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” kissing contest is being held at 2 p.m. in Judge John Rodenberg’s courtroom instead of Irish Park. Kearney said the Germans got very unruly last year when they finally got a chance to kiss some really good kissers.

The Grand Kabaret will host a debate at 1 p.m. between Sara O’Palin and Michelle McBachmann. The winner will get the chance to take on Hillary Clinton in the big event right after the dinner in Don’s Pub.

As always, huge crowds are expected for the parade. Chief of Police Myron Wieland is taking a special interest in the parade security this year, after nearly being cut down in the line of duty. According to Kearney, Wieland could have easily lost his life this past year if not for the actions of one of New Ulm’s Irish to save him, and he has now become an Irish blood brother. Far too modest to discuss the details, Kearney says people should ask Wieland what happened.

When The Journal called to inquire, Wieland described the harrowing event, which is far too bloody and graphic to publish in the paper on a Sunday morning. But he said that is one reason he hired an officer of Irish descent, Brady Murphy.

Kearney said he is pleased that the Germans in New Ulm have taken down the dirty dishrags that were hung up over Minnesota Street before the parade. “The Germans said it was for Fasching, but the Irish just call it Washing Day,” said Kearney.

The St. Patrick’s Monument steering committee has been working with the Schell’s Brewery to develop a green beer called Blarney Beer. The committee hoped to have it in the liquor stores by the first of this year to raise money for the St. Patrick Monument, but Schell’s has been so busy due to the popularity of its Grain Belt and Nordeast beer that it hasn’t had time to make Blarney Beer. The committee was told that if it bought Schell’s beer this year it would definitely turn green within eight or nine months and be ready for sale in 2012.

As part of its ongoing effort to provide guidance and counsel to the Germans in New Ulm, the Irish instituted an information hotline to answer any German’s questions. Kearney shared some of the results of the effort:

Lou Geistfeld called in and asked if it was OK to use his AM radio in the afternoon.

Terry Sveine called in and asked which side was the other side of the street.

City Attorney Hugh Nierengarten called in and said he had heard the state was going to put a tax on brains to help settle its budget problems. Nierengarten asked if he could qualify for a refund.

Council President Charles Schmitz called and asked if God ever got things mixed up. Schmitz said he suspected God may have got confused last year when Schmitz prayed for a fat bank account and a thin body.

The Irish said they hope new Mayor Bob Beussman will be a more pliable and cooperative city official than his predecessor, Joel Albrecht.

Albrecht, saddened by the fact that he wouldn’t be able to ride at the head of the parade after his loss last November, asked if there was still a place for him in the parade. Kearney said, “We found a special spot for him, right behind the New Ulm Battery’s horse-drawn caissons.”

As always, the day’s festivities will end at midnight when Mary O’Connor dances the Irish Jig on the bar of Don’s Pub.

The annual Gathering of the Clans Banquet will be held following the parade at Don’s Pub better known as the Kaiserhoff, renamed for the day by special arrangement with the owner, Don Veigl shown here with his wife Jan.

(By the way, Veigl reported recently that someone had called his establishment and asked if he had any Wild Duck. Don said he didn’t, but he would be glad to irritate a tame one for them.)

Photo courtesy of The Journal