ALGONA – This year, Algona’s St. Paddy’s Day parade featured a new character: St. Patrick himself.
“I did the costume for a school project last year,” said Aidan Koob, 13, as he waited for the parade to begin dressed in a set of green robes and bishop hat.
The traditional celebration, now in its 32nd year, was short and sweet Monday afternoon as usual.
That’s how the founders wanted it.
“They didn’t want any floats, any bands, or any politicians,” said Mary Straub Lavelle, one of the “Sons and Daughters of St. Patrick” who organize the event.
One of those founders was the late Ed Farrell, husband of Darlene Farrell.
“It was to be a family thing,” Darlene Farrell said. “And it still is. We always have a lot of little ones.”
The parade featured families like the McCalls and the Murphys marching under family banners, and all manner of green costumes. After only 15 minutes, the parade was over, and it was time to reconvene indoors for some traditional Irish stew, corned beef and cabbage, and other goodies.
“I like the parade. It’s fun, it’s easy. You’re done in a few minutes, then you come down and you have a little cheer,” said this year’s grand marshal, Rose Murphy Kain. “We always start at my brother’s office and have a little cheer ahead of time.”
Kain has lived in Algona most of her life, and spoke of her Irish heritage.
“My dad was born and raised in Ireland,” she said, moving to Iowa in 1926. “He passed away two years before they started this parade, so he never was able to see it.”
She’s been to Ireland twice.
“We went to see the place my dad was raised. And my cousin still farms that farm. And see the countryside; it’s absolutely beautiful over there,” she said.
Also – “If you go to Ireland to the Guinness brewery, and have a beer, it will have a shamrock on top. They make a Shamrock in the foam. I don’t know how they do that.”
As far as Irish traditions go, Kain spoke fondly of her family’s Irish meals.
“Of course you always have the Irish meals, the boiled potatoes, the cabbage and corned beef,” she said. “We were huge on potatoes in our family.”
The boiled cabbage Monday was cooked by Dan McCall, while the Irish stew was provided by Joe Straub.
It was a good chance for anybody to be Irish, even if they weren’t. Susanna Alman came wearing a bright green shirt that said “I’m Iowish.”
“I’m a full-blooded Luxembourger,” she said. “But I’m Irish tonight.”