Though the snow was falling and the wind was chilly, the Le Sueur County community was decked out in enough green to make the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Le Center feel like spring.
The emerald-clad royalty, proud Irish families and bagpipers parading down Minnesota Avenue on Saturday motivated hundreds of community members to withstand the weekend windchill and line up downtown to enjoy the 41st annual St. Patrick’s Celebration.
But before the main festivities could start, the community had a new Miss Shamrock to crown. On Friday, the night before the parade, Le Center American Legion 108 was packed to the brim as hundreds of guests came to show their support for the coronation of the 2023 St. Patrick’s Royalty.
The title of Miss Shamrock went to this year’s lucky lady, Keira Oeltjenbruns, of Kasota. The St. Peter High School senior was also awarded the John Gregory O’Connell Scholarship award.
Unfortunately, Oeltjenbruns could not make it to the coronation ceremony as she was playing for the Saints girls basketball team in the 2AAA Section Champion against Marshall. Due to the weather, the game was rescheduled from Thursday to Friday, March 10.
Lacey McCabe stood in for her cousin at the ceremony, accepting the sashes on Oeltjenbruns’ behalf.
Oeltjenbruns is the daughter of Keith and Kim Oeltjenbruns and her Irish ancestry comes for the family names of McCabe, Smith, Ward, O’Brien and Mitchell. In her talent show performance the week prior, Oeltjenbruns honored her late Irish grandfather, Emmet McCabe, hosted a game of St. Patrick’s trivia and delivered an Irish blessing with the women in her family who were once St. Patrick’s royalty themselves.
Le Center’s own Sami Tiede was awarded the crown and sash of Miss Leprechaun after performing an Irish-themed skit and song titled “Luck of the Irish.”
Lauren Powers, of St. Peter, was crowned Miss Irish Rose. During the St. Patrick’s Day talent show, she entertained the community with a poem titled “The Fairies” written by William Allingham, and a painting of her interpretation of the poem.
Each of the candidates received were awarded their sashes and crowns by the 2022 St. Patrick’s Royalty — Miss Shamrock Molly Closser, Miss Leprechaun Emma Neubauer and Miss Irish Rose Allie Blaschko.
Calla Stewart, Muriell Whipps and Mya Vrzal escorted the candidates and later shared the Miss Shamrock float in the parade with Oeltjenbruns.
Princess and royal candidates from surrounding communities also attended the coronation to show their support.
The festivities continued on Saturday with the traditional Mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Le Center, followed by a helping of mulligan stew at the Le Center American Legion just before the parade.
At 2 p.m., the main event of the St. Patrick’s Parade hit Minnesota street. American Legion and VFW Color Guard opened the parade, followed by Grand Marshals Jim and Julie Harmon.
Each royal candidate waved to the crowd from their thrones atop clover-colored floats while Irish clans tossed out candy to the community. Emergency services flashed their fire truck and ambulance lights and the Sheriff’s Mounted Posse took the streets on horseback.
The Govenaires Drum and Bugle Corps of St. Peter and the Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band bagpipers spread their music in the street and performed for the community after the parade. Community members stood elbow-to-elbow in the Legion following the parade for an exclusive concert.
The holiday ended with one last hurrah as IV Play closed out live entertainment with a concert at the Legion.