‘Not to be missed’: Annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration, a reunion for Irish-American clans | Local News


WASECA — As a member of the Darmody clan, Collin Kubista likens the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebrations to a family reunion.

“We have family from Austin, Rochester, Mankato,” the Janesville man said. “It’s one of those times of the year where we can put it on the calendar and meet.”

The green-clad family from across southern Minnesota held their final meeting Saturday, holding their family banner while marching through Waseca with other Irish-American clans.

He was part of the Irish American Club of Southern Minnesota’s 54th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration. The festivities began with an Irish Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in the morning before the parade of clans from the church to the Mill event center, where food, games and music continued into the evening.

The club, based in Waseca and Janesville, dates the celebration back at least three generations.

Its roots go back to birthday party plans among Irish-American friends. When they realized how many Irish-Americans there were in the area, the birthday party turned into an annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration honoring their Irish heritage.

Ben Burns of Clan Burns and Lance Miller of Clan Miller, McShane and Lynch said they had been marching in the Clan Parade for as long as they could remember. Their families were among the “clubbers” who started the tradition.

“We wouldn’t miss it,” said Burns, the parade chairman this year. “It’s in my roots. It’s my heritage. It’s who I am and what I do.”

The celebration took on a different tone in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Mass has always been held in person and live, followed by a virtual happy hour and toast in the evening.

Saturday’s all-day festivities were a return to form in person. The clans gathered over a stew of mulligan and an Irish jig.

“There’s a lot of energy to come together and get back to it,” Burns said after the parade. “It’s going to be really nice.”

Kubista’s great-aunt in the Darmody clan, Lori Wilhelmi, said the family always pulled out their green coats and circled their neighborhood to mark the occasion.

“We took the dog and our banner and walked around the block filming each other,” she said with a laugh.

They have made it work and the club regularly instills solidarity through family updates on its Facebook page. Still, Kubista, Wilhelmi and others agreed it was good to be back with their fellow Irish-Americans.

The day is so much about being together celebrating a shared heritage, Kubista said.

“It’s about honoring our heritage and everything our family has gone through to come to this country,” he said. “And (honoring) the work ethic it took to fully transplant to another country and thrive.”

For more information visit www.facebook.com/Irishclubmn.

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