Everyone is Irish for St. Patty’s in PdC

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The McGinleys and McCoys are just a few of the many families with Irish roots who will proudly march through the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Saturday at 10 a.m. in downtown Prairie du Chien. (Courier Press file photo)

By Correne Martin

Everyone is Irish and the whole community seems painted green when Prairie du Chien celebrates its annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities. This year, the jubilant day of green pride will take place on Saturday, March 14, featuring a lively and lengthy parade downtown and Irish music and specials all over the city.

Even a Shamrock Shuffle 5k is offered for those looking to start the party bright and early. Register from 7 to 7:40 a.m. at Hoffman Hall, where the second annual run/walk will begin at 7:45 and end after participants complete the 3.1 miles. People of all ages are invited to come out in their best green attire. There is a fee per person to run or walk and any non-perishable food items donated at the event will benefit the Couleecap Food Pantry in Prairie du Chien. Proceeds benefit the Hoffman Hall Improvement Fund.

The annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will begin at 10 a.m. Participants are asked to assemble at 9 a.m. on St. Feriole Island. The route will begin there and go east on Blackhawk Avenue, north on Michigan Street and west on Washington Street before heading back to the island.

St. Patrick himself is the 2015 grand marshal and will lead the parade. The king and queen of the parade will be Fred and Barb Huebsch, longtime Prairie du Chien residents. Fred was a well-known car salesman in the area for 75 years before retiring in 2014.

Following the parade, many area establishments will join in the revelry by serving corned beef and cabbage, green beer, and other traditional Irish specialties, and playing exuberant music late into the night. Local retail shops offer unique specials as well.

Jimmy Sherman, of the Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band, from St. Paul, Minn., will return to Prairie du Chien again this year to share his bagpiping talents along the parade route and at local bars and pubs throughout the day. He will play about 15 minutes each at Eddie’s Irish Pub, Bob’s Bar, Jim’s Bar, the Sawmill Saloon, The Blackhawk, and Ft. Mulligan’s Grillpub. He will also delight an audience at the AmericInn lobby before the parade.

“Jimmy the bagpiper has been coming to our festivities for quite a few years. People really enjoy him,” Chamber Director Bob Moses said.

“The whole day is very festive. There’s a good crowd and lots of excitement,” said Mike Hoeger, of Ft. Mulligan’s. “We see lots of Jamison and Guiness drinkers. We serve Irish whiskeys, Irish coffees, Irish Car Bombs, Baileys Irish Cream. It’s definitely one of the busiest afternoons of the winter.”

Hoeger noted that bus loads of people even come from different cities, such as Richland Center and Decorah, to spend the whole day enjoying the local entertainment.

Popular around southwest Wisconsin, the Irish band, Wind in the Barley, will participate in the parade in the morning and then head over to the Eagles Club to lead the fun there, from noon to 5 p.m.

“It’ll be packed, wall-to-wall,” said Manager Karen Hallberg. “Everybody dances and has a great time. Everybody’s Irish that day!”

Following Wind in the Barley, Twisted Vision, run by brothers Nick and Nate Gilberts, of Prairie du Chien, will provide karaoke and music from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Eagles Club. A corned beef and cabbage dinner will also be served.

Several customary Irish dishes will be served on the menu at Eddie’s Irish Pub, including Guiness beef stew, Irish farm house stew and corned beef shalaylee as well as corned beef and cabbage and Reubens.

“We get a lot of recurrent customers and most of them order the Irish foods and drink our green beer on draft,” Dennis Miller, manager at Eddie’s, said. “I like to work the whole day because it’s lots of fun and I like to make sure everyone is having a good time.”

Miller noted that Saturday will be one of his business’ busiest of the year.

At The Blackhawk, which is relatively new to the commotion downtown during St. Patty’s Day festivities, the celebration will keep staff busy too.

“We’ll have Irish music during the day and a full menu will be served, including our piled-high Reubens,” Owner Angie Jones said. “Last year was crazy. We’ll have everything decorated and everybody will be all dressed up. It’s such a fun time. Then, that night, the  famous Charles Walker Band will be back, starting around 8 p.m.”

Without a doubt, the sounds of bagpipes, live bands, karaoke and jukebox tunes will fill businesses all over the town, and an overabundance of good Irish food will be served Saturday.

It’s certainly an all-day celebration. So put on your most Irish and most extravagant green ensembles and fill the city with some shamrock spirit this Saturday.

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