Irish Set to Celebrate with 51st Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade

March 13, 2016

By Kevin Sweeney – Journal Editor, © The Journal

NEW ULM – This week New Ulm will behold the 51st annual New Ulm St. Patrick’s Day Parade, an event steeped in tradition and dedicated to the principle of showing Germans how to have fun and enjoy themselves. It is also the longest continuously held St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the state of Minnesota.

On Saturday, the Irish hosted a magnificent Irish luncheon, Fair and Market at the New Ulm Best Western Plus. But that is just a warm up for the parade, which will take place, as always, at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 17.

The parade will start at Third South and Minnesota Street (in front of Terry Dempsey’s house) and proceed the wrong way up Minnesota to the Glockenspiel at Fourth North. As always, anyone who is Irish, or who would like to be Irish, or who simply wants to have a good time is invited to march.

The Parade Grand Marshal will be Brian Filzen from KNUJ Radio, and the Irish Queen will be Mary Jane Glawe. As soon as the parade is over, all are welcome to join the Gathering of the Clans Banquet at Jan’s Pub (aka the Kaiserhoff). There will be dinner and entertainment with an Irish piper, and New Ulm’s very own O’Concord Singers, folk music by Jerry Chamberlain, jokes and blessings.

(Experienced readers of these articles will know that the information above is factual. You may believe what follows at your own risk.)

“Germans have increasingly been asking why the Irish march the ‘wrong way’ on Minnesota Street for the Irish Parade,” said Tom Donnelly, one of the founders of the event. “The Irish committee has always followed tradition but we did not actually research why. So we checked our extensive library of records for decisions made in the past and found the reason the parade goes from Third South to the Glockenspiel.

“Weather records indicate that in New Ulm, the prevailing winds on March 17 are from the south,” Donnelly explained. “Not willing to face nature’s winds head on, and mindful of the old Irish blessing, ‘May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back…’ the New Ulm Irish decided to work with the hand of God and allow the wind to be at our back. Thus we walk in the direction of the prevailing wind, not against it.”

The theme of this year’s parade is, “There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met yet,” said Donnelly. In keeping with that motto, The Journal’s new publisher, Greg Orear (he says it’s a Scottish name) will be granted an honorary apostrophe and he will be invited to march as an Irish O’Rear, not in the rear but in the front of the parade. This is in stark contrast to the German Day Parade held by the New Ulm Germans, who organize their family marching units by the length of time they have been in New Ulm. The oldest families march first and the newer families having to wait their turn in the back.

The St. Patrick’s Day parade began in 1966, making this the 51st annual marching but the 50th anniversary of the first parade. Famed Irish mathematician Seamus McEinstein will present a lecture at the New Ulm Public Library to explain this anomaly.

That will be one of the many educational and cultural events that are scheduled for the day, which starts with a solemn mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.

There will be the annual Rope Pushing Contest in Irish Park (aka German Park), with several hundred contestants expected. The Norwegians from Hanska are so confident this year they have challenged the Germans to a special log chain pushing contest.

Terry Sveine, who retired from the Chamber of Commerce last year to become an international movie star, will be signing autographs at the Cinema Three Theaters in New Ulm. He will be paying $5 per autograph for anyone willing to accept one.

A Bowling Ball Juggling contest will be held in Irish Park. Contestants are advised to bring their own helmets.

Last year, Mayor Bob Beussman participated in a new event, the ZeroK Run/Walk. He won that too easily, so this year the Irish are trying a different event, the “Hermann the German Roll Out the Barrel Barrel Roll.” Contestants will climb into barrels and be rolled down the Center Street Hill from the Hermann Monument, and the first one able to stand will be the winner. First prize is a six-pack of Schells Beer. Second prize is two six-packs of Schells.

The Irish had hoped to host a presidential debate featuring Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, but after coming in third in the Minnesota precinct caucuses, Trump declared Minnesota to be full of “losers” who are unworthy of his magnificent presence, while Hillary claimed she never got the e-mail invitation. Instead, the Irish will host a presidential pig race at the Brown County Fairgrounds. Pigs bearing the names of all the candidates will race down a track to see who can be the first to get their snout in the public trough.

Tom Schmitz from Park and Rec has asked to increase our tax rates for the purpose of running a zip line from the Hermann Monument to Riverside Park. This would be cheaper than building a water park and the Germans can use it to hang out their laundry during Fasching.

The Irish are also asking that the New Ulm RENU committee add the installation of a statue of St. Patrick to its list of projects to be financed by extending the city’s sales tax. As the late Bill O’Connor, another founder of the parade and for many years the city’s Blarneymeister, used to say, New Ulm should have a statue of St. Patrick instead of Hermann because “St. Patrick was a saint and a scholar, while Hermann was a heathen barbarian.”

O’Connor, by the way, though deceased, remains in charge of the weather. His intervention is expected to produce another delightful day for the procession.

The Irish will be award a Double Done Nothing Award to Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature for doing nothing on the Highway 14 project in the last two years.

The Irish are seeking Guinness Book of Records recognition for holding the longest Riverdance for its 5K Irish Jig event.

Remember, if you want to live longer jig, don’t jog. And Don Brand, no matter how hard he tries, will never be Irish.


Cloths were attached to street lights by members of the Narren in honor of an upcoming Fasching celebration. Although the Irish don’t approve of the Germans airing their dirty laundry in public, the decorations are an annual tradition in New Ulm. Proposed new tax rates will fund running a zip line from the Hermann Monument to Riverside Park so it is hoped the Germans can use it to hang out their laundry there instead of downtown.

Photo by Clay Schuldt