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Donahues excited to be St. Patrick's Day Parade grand marshals

The Donahue family will be the grand marshals of the 2017 St. Patrick’s Day Parade scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday, March 17. (Photo provided by CKS Photography)

New Richmond

The Donahue family, lead by Patrick and Helen Donahue, has been attending the St. Patrick's Day parade in New Richmond for as long as any of the children can remember.

"We've been part of the parade since we were very young," said matriarch Helen. "We've been coming up since we started living on the farm, which was right after we were married, and that has almost been 64 years."

However, as the children — including Mike, Joe, Terry, Dennis, Colleen and Brian — have grown and moved across the upper midwest, it has been harder for the family of eight to all be in one place at the same time. However, with the family being named grand marshals of the annual Shamrock Club St. Patrick's Day parade, which will be held at 4 p.m. Friday, March 17, the whole family will converge in New Richmond to celebrate.

"We will all get together for St. Patrick's Day for the first time in many years," said son Brian. "We all have years to get there, but this year we will all be able to make it and march together. That will be awesome to bring the whole family together, especially with us being grand marshals."

Patrick and Helen have been married for over 60 years and lived on their family farm in the Erin Prairie Township up until just a few years ago when they moved into town. According to Helen, the parade has always been a fun, family activity for the Donahues, including the after party at the Shamrock, which has featured music from the likes of Conrad Jones.

"It is an honor to be grand marshals this year. We really miss Billy (Driscoll) because he was always wanting us to be in the parade and be grand marshals, but we couldn't while I was sick," Helen said.

The honor isn't lost on the Donahue children either.

"It is pretty special to be a grand marshal I think," Dennis said. "There have been a lot of years that we would go to St. Paul to take part in the festivities there, but we'd always get back here in time to be part of the New Richmond parade. The parade here has always been so well organized and well attended."

Colleen also remembers the good times, but also felt like the parade was more than just a reason to get together once a year.

"It is a really cool community of people who come together for the parade to celebrate their heritage," Colleen said. "We are lucky to have grown up in that kind of a community.

"The parade has been a tradition for so many years, put on by the McCabes and Driscolls, and the fact that they have kept it going for so long is such a great thing. It's been a great boon for the Irish community in New Richmond and Erin. It is a small community, which makes it all the more impressive that the parade has kept going for so long. They have really put their blood, sweat and tears into it."

Along with memories of taking part in the parade every year, son Brian also remembers the family tradition of attending church at St. Patrick's Church in Erin Prairie.

"This is where our ancestors settled and where the family farm still resides, just outside of New Richmond," Brian said. "Of course we enjoy corned beef and cabbage afterward at the church before heading into town for the festivities so graciously put on by the McCabes and Driscoll, the shamrock, for the past 40 years.

"Another interesting part of our family being in the parade is that mom would throw potatoes instead of candy on the parade route. She would almost knock kids out with them sometimes. But she said that this year she is going to boil them first so they are nice and mushy."

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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