EMMETSBURG - Even it is only for one weekend, everyone who made their way to Emmetsburg for the annual St. Patrick's Day parade became Irish for a day Saturday.
A few thousand people, and even pets, braved the cold and a few flurries hanging in the air to get decked out in green clothing, wigs, boots, hats and beads to line the streets and take in the hour and a half long parade.
Brett Hoimen, 11, of Emmetsburg, comes out to the parade every year. This year he wore a vest covered in clovers, an oversized leprechaun hat, layers of brightly colored beads and sported a long, fuzzy green beard.
-Messenger photo by Emilie Nelson-Jenson
Brody Burhow, 8, of Emmetsburg, sports a green mustache as he and Connor Geelan, 9, of Ruthven, wait for the St. Patrick’s Day parade to begin in Emmetsburg Saturday afternoon.
"I try to add something to what I wear every year," said Hoimen. "This year I added the beard."
Hoimen enjoys getting dressed up for the parade, but his favorite part?
"Just watching it and catching the candy," he said.
Autumn Young, of Emmetsburg, found a green tutu, bright green tights and a pair of warm, furry green boots to wear to the parade. Young said the boots were perfect for the cold day. "The only thing on me that isn't freezing right now are my feet," she said.
There was no pretending for Marcella Corcoran Kennedy. She is full-blooded Irish, and was invited by the Emmetsburg St. Patrick's Committee to travel to the United States to attend this year's festivities as the 2013 dignitary.
Corcoran Kennedy, a member of the Irish Parliament from County Offaly, Ireland, said she felt at home in the small community so far from her native country.
"It's very similar to how we do it at home," she said. "It's all about getting as many people as possible here to celebrate together."
The biggest difference?
"This is definitely the coldest celebration St Patrick's Day celebration I've attended," she said. "And I've never been to a parade where I was showered with sweets and candies."
Corcoran Kennedy also spent the week in Iowa visiting the state capitol talking to legislators and visiting with Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, and getting to know the people of Emmetsburg by taking in the week's festivities.
"I have received a wonderful welcome," she said. "Emmetsburg has a very strong sense of community spirit and I have been very impressed with the St. Patrick's committee for staying dedicated to this and keeping a little bit of the Irish heritage alive."