Even though I spend a lot of time at a computer in the course of a day's work, I also spend my fair share of time at home surfing the web, looking for column ideas and such. In the past week, a link posed on Facebook led me to the MainStreet.com website, and an article entitled "10 Surprising Places to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day."
No. Couldn't be could it?
Yep, sure was. Right there, leading the list was Emmetsburg.
"Emmetsburg Iowa: When a small town nearly doubles its population for a festival, you know it has to be good. Approximately 7,000 people flood into the Iowa sister city of Dublin, Ireland, for this festival, which includes a pageant, talent show, fish fry, a half-relay, chainsaw art and of course, Irish Stew. It runs March 10-17."
Now, you've got to admit, that capsule is pretty much right on target. Over 21 years that I've been here at "The Reporter" and "The Democrat" I've seen both sides of Broadway filled with people during the years when the predominant color was dark blue due to the cold and the snow was almost knee deep, and I've seen the years when the skies were bright blue, the sun shone brightly and the bank thermometer reported a pleasant 78 degrees as people watched the parade in their finest summer attire, all around March 17.
Over those years, there have been countless memories of events, people, parade entries and all of the aspect that go into St. Patrick's Day. Everyone has something that comes to mind when March rolls around and thoughts go to the day when everyone is Irish.
I can remember lots of parade entries The Brian Boru Pipe Band and the skirl of the pipes as they march up Broadway. Young and old alike are captivated by the sound of the pipes and the drums, and will follow the group as they make their way through the downtown when the parade is over, just to be immersed in the magic of the music.
The many visiting Irish dignitaries who have visited the community over the years have kept the ties to the Auld sod alive and well. Many of our local citizens have journeyed back to the Emerald Isle and met some of those former visitors to St. Pat's and all have wonderful memories of their time in Emmetsburg.
And who can forget some of the out-of-the-ordinary sights of St. Pat's? How about the parade entries a few years back of a purebred Irish Wolfhound, who, when prompted by his human, rose on his hind legs to place his front paws on the shoulders of his human and still stood taller? Of course, there have been several green creatures dogs, a couple of cats, a horse, and a few people who didn't quite match the description of leprechauns.
But those are just a few memories.
There are memories of family paying tribute to the clans who trace their lineage back to Ireland and the original founding of Emmetsburg and Palo Alto County. The celebration remains as a yearly reunion of sorts for families like the McNally's, the Nolans, the Brennans, the McCains, and so many more. While some generations have passed, the younger generations continue to return to their "Auld Sod" to keep those traditions of family alive.
Sure, there are lots of other activities during St. Pats just like the article says. This will be the 51st year for the Miss Shamrock Pageant, and the O' Round the Loch Run is back for another year. The Irish Stew luncheon is as much a part of the Saturday schedule as the St. Pat's Parade itself.
But truly, the best part of St. Patrick's Day in Emmetsburg is the chance for everyone to be Irish and what could be finer than that?