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A brief history of St Patricks




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King and queen and ‘ambassador
of beer' make parade official

By GAY GRIESBACH - GM Today Staff March 19, 2007

Wayne Radata of Monches holds onto the reins of a camel during the parade at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the town of Erin Saturday.>> Click here for photo slideshow

TOWN OF ERIN - Irish eyes weren’t the only ones smiling Saturday at Erin’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. Queen Michelle Towey, King Jake Homulos and their royal jester, a 70-pound green retriever-poodle mix named Riley, readied to lead the parade. When asked about official duties, Towey replied, "We don’t have any. "Nice work, if you can get it. Sprinkled between hay wagons carrying leprechauns, banshees and faeries were floats with Bigfoot, a legend added to local lore in November when a worker contracted to pick up road kill said he encountered a creature stealing a deer carcass off the back of his truck. Jim Wright was trimming up a 1927 Model T truck with an Erin Historical Society sign on the door. He said the parade was a good way to increase awareness of the organization, which meets at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every other month (March, May and July) at the Erin Town Hall. The group is leasing Lucy’s Horseshoe Inn from the town, working toward making it a museum. "Preservation needs to be done. Once its gone, it’s lost forever," said Wright."

Every year we carry St. Patrick -- we like to think of ourselves as the official float," said Maureen Fitzsimmons-Vanden Heuvel as she tied green balloons to a pickup truck carrying John Kaczor, aka St. Patrick.
John’s wife, Bonnie, came to the parade each year dressed to the hilt - "People used to ask to buy the earrings she made, parts of her outfit," said Kaczor. But Bonnie passed away two years ago, in February 2005. "It was really a shocker," said Kaczor. Before St. Pat made his trip down Highway K that year, organizer Jeff Kraft asked Kaczor to stand in for the saint. "It really helped me," said Kaczor. With his miter, staff and vestments, you can’t help but think Bonnie is looking down and smiling.

People were also smiling at Al Bunde, brewmaster at Riverside Brewery and Restaurant in West Bend, as he trudged up the hill with his accordion on his back and a hogshead of beer at his side. "The cops wouldn’t let me in," said Bunde, who had parked north of the parade route and had to hike uphill. What the police couldn’t know is that Bunde was a member of the now-defunct Riverwest Accordion Club and was dubbed "The Ambassador of Beer. "Wouldn’t he have political immunity or something? Urged on by other parade-goers, Bunde stopped several times to play ‘Whiskey for the Devil" or squeeze out a few Irish-sounding chords. Green-hatted, painted and bejeweled partiers cheered him on and stopped him to take photos."I’m getting really thirsty," said Bunde.

This story appeared in the West Bend Daily News on March 19, 2007.