A pair of long-time St. Patrick's Day Celebration supporters
have been chosen to serve as the co-Grand Marshals of the 2000
St. Patrick's Day Celebration and Parade on March 18. In
addition, the Honorary Irishman of the celebration has
been selected following action by the St. Pat's Organizing
Committee late last week.
Weiland and Liz Culligan will serve as the co-Grand Marshals,
in recognition of their years of service to the St. Pat's
celebration. Jane Whitmore, Editor of The Reporter and The
Democrat newspapers in Emmetsburg, has been chosen as the
Honorary Irishman for the celebration. In their official
dignitary roles, Whitmore, Culligan and Weiland will
participate in many of the events that comprise Emmetsburg's
annual St. Pat's Celebration. Beginning with the Little Miss
Shamrock and the Miss Shamrock Pageants, running through the
St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 18, where they will ride in
the parade and view the festivities from the dignitaries'
reviewing stand, before being honored at the annual Banquet
that evening at the VFW Post Hall.
Whitmore was selected as the Honorary Irishman by past and
present members of the St. Pat's Association Board of
Directors. Liz Culligan and Art Weiland were both selected on
the basis of nominations received by the St. Pat's Association
The selection of Liz Culligan and Art Weiland as co-Grand
Marshals is only the second time in the history of the St.
Pat's Celebration that active members of the Association's
Board of Directors have been chosen for the honor.
Culligan and Weiland have become almost synonymous with the
annual celebration. Liz Culligan has served in various
capacities for the Association since 1970, when she first
became involved in the activities of the group.
remember John McCain asked me one day, 'Can you write?' and I
answered back, 'Yes, I can write a sentence," Culligan
recalled. "He told me that was good enough and that I was
in charge of publicity for the celebration, and its grown from
then on. I've loved it ever since."
that beginning association, Culligan has risen through the
ranks to the role of the Association's Secretary, or
"Mother Superior", as she is referred to by the
group's members. She has held that role since 1987. In 30
years, Culligan admits the celebration has changed from its
early, prank-filled days. "Really, when you think about
how this all started as a bunch of fun and nonsense and see
how it has snowballed. We were all a lot younger and crazier
in those early days, too," Culligan laughed. "There
really hasn't been any one celebration more memorable than any
other, but you just have to marvel at how it has grown and
will continue to grow." The celebration has grown since
those first days and now Culligan sees it continuing that
change. "I see St. Pat's becoming more of a Homecoming
for our community. It's a chance for our children to come
home, to keep the sense of family alive. It's also a great way
for the younger children to learn more about their Irish
heritage and they really do enjoy learning about St. Patrick
being selected as the co-Grand Marshal, Culligan admits that
the shock and realization of the honor hadn't really set in as
of Friday morning. "Right now, I'm still in a state of
disbelief and wonderment, I guess," Culligan admitted.
"But, I'm really looking forward to the whole celebration
that much more."
Weiland also admitted the honor of being named co-Grand
Marshal hadn't really set in for him, either, but he was
certainly going to enjoy it. "Here I am, a German without
a drop of Irish blood in me, but I married an Irish gal and
that did it for me," Weiland noted.
the years, Weiland has been responsible for lining up the
Irish dignitary that visits Emmetsburg for the week of
the St. Pat's Celebration. Through the years, the procedure of
selecting the dignitary has changed very little, but has been
an education for Weiland. "Over the year's I've worked
very closely with the U.S. State Department and the Irish
Consulate in Chicago and they've been very helpful in making
arrangements for the dignitaries to visit."
While lining up the dignitaries might
seem to be a gargantuan task, Weiland dismisses that notion.
"I got the job because I had the time and desire to do it
because it was something you could do and see results coming
from it. Plus, no one else would step in and take it on."
In his tenure as the Dignitary Chair,
Art and his wife Mary traveled to Ireland in 1981, where they
were able to visit the Irish Parliament and meet many of the
144 members of the House. Many of those Irish lawmakers met
during that visit have come to Emmetsburg as guest
dignitaries. However, Weiland remembers one Irish lawmaker who
came to Emmetsburg twice. "Jarrod Collins was here in
Emmetsburg in 1974 and 1993 and I remember he was a great
orator," Weiland noted. "He truly liked this
community and area and told me more than once that if he could
have a second home, he would want it to be in Emmetsburg. He
is no longer in the Irish Parliament, but he is now
representing Ireland in the European Parliament."
his co-Grand Marshal, who also happens to be his
sister-in-law, Weiland sees the St. Pat's Celebration changing
with the times. "As time goes on, I see St. Pat's
becoming more of a reunion for those who have left here. It
gives them a chance to come home and keep their sense of
family and their Irish heritage alive."
Weiland, there is another reason for his devotion to the St.
Pat's Association. "It still gives me something to do and
besides, I say if you can't have fun doing something, then why
do it? I'm still having fun and plan to for a long time to
Jane Whitmore of Emmetsburg has been
somewhat of a fixture in the annual St. Patrick's Day
Celebration for over 20 years, in her tenure as a reporter and
currently as editor of the community's newspapers, The
Reporter and The Democrat. Her early associations with the St.
Pat's Board included coverage of several important milestones
in the celebration's history.
being named the Honorary Irishman puts Whitmore in somewhat of
a dilemma. First, Whitmore claims Czech heritage, rather than
Irish and perhaps most importantly, she can't be an Irishman.
Therefore, the St. Pat's Association Board is working
feverishly on obtaining authentic Kolaches, in honor of
Whitmore's ancestry, but with a suitable Irish coloring for
very honored and excited to be selected as the Honorary
Irishman," Whitmore noted. "It will be different to
not be behind the camera on St. Pat's and be on the other
side, but I'm sure I'll enjoy it." A native of West Bend,
Whitmore has a son, Jeremy, who, with his wife Jenny and
daughters Samantha and Nicole, live in Maryland.