Going for the green

EMMETSBURG – To keep warm while watching the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Saturday afternoon in downtown Emmetsburg, one could either bundle up in everything green to be found, or warm up from the inside with a bowl of Irish stew beforehand.

Ned Munn, of Emmetsburg, has been in charge of making the stew for the annual Palo Alto County Democrats fundraiser since 2000.

While he won’t divulge the exact recipe, he does freely admit to making a few adjustments – in the interest of quality control.

“We’re getting better and better all the time,” he said.

He starts early in the top o’ the mornin’ – combining ingredients chopped the night before by a crew of volunteers – along with a “Little sparkle of Irish dust.”

He ends up with a lot of stew; he estimates about 35 gallons that usually, is all eaten up.

“Three years ago,” he said, “the last person here got the last bowl.”

He hopes to repeat that performance. He is also working hard to combat the rumor, perhaps being spread by anti-stew forces, that the meat in the stew is leprechaun.

“It’s not,” he said.

While there might be a little Blarney served with the stew, out along the parade route there was something else in the air.


Josh Danley, of Mingo, brought along a little box with a ring in it. He got down on bended knee and proposed to his girlfriend, Lindsey Doty.

She said the magic three-letter word: “Yes.”

It’s the couple’s second year at the annual parade. While he’s been thinking about popping the question for awhile, the day of the parade just seemed right.

“It’s a magical time of year,” he said.

A second couple, Joe Smith and Sarah Kohensee, got engaged during the parade too. Smith got off the float he was riding on, walked back toward where she was walking and asked her.

“It was a complete surprise,” she said.

She also, for the record, said “Yes.”

Should either couple have decided to tie the knot right then and there, they might want to avoid having Elaine Nauss, of Emmetsburg, do the honors.

Nauss, dressed in a full nun’s habit and riding a two-wheel motorized cart while sprinkling water from a plastic bottle, is the character Sister Mary Holy Water.

“I’m really a Lutheran,” she revealed. Her other great secret, “I’m Norwegian.”

Aimee and Terry Speck, of Sioux City, were enjoying the parade for the first time.

“We’re missing our own parade,” She said.

The couple wore the regulation level of green, including glue-on facial hair. As for Terry Speck’s green beverage?

“I swear it’s Kool-aid,” he said.

Dressing up in green is only the beginning for Phil Brown, of Emmetsburg. He actually becomes green – courtesy of a lot of food coloring.

“I apply it with a rag,” he said.

He’s not too worried that he might have trouble removing it.

“It comes off in one shower,” he said.

It’s a reflection of his attitude toward the holiday.

“You can never overdo being Irish,” Brown said.

Nancy Wentzel, of Emmetsburg, brought something pretty authentically Irish to the parade: her 130-pound American Kennel Club Good Citizen-certified Irish wolfhound, Maura.

Wentzel said that she’s pretty sure Maura knows it’s St. Patrick’s Day, but that a green costume, will not be needed.

“Her costume is her Irish integrity,” she said.

In spite of her size, the Celtic canine is actually a bit reserved.

“She’s shy,” Wentzel said.

This year’s visiting Irish dignitary, Michelle Mulherin, is from Ballina in County Mayo. She’s a member of the Irish Parliament.

She said that St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Ireland are not as somber as they used to be. She said that’s a reflection of growing prosperity and that people have given themselves permission to enjoy it.

She enjoys seeing people come together.

One thing she did not expect to see, a horse and foal colored green.

“Never,” she said. “At least not without a lot of drink.”