SoDak Stories: Clear Lake's oldest St. Patty's Day parade - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

SoDak Stories: Clear Lake's oldest St. Patty's Day parade

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A drive down Clear Lake's main street, 3rd Avenue, shows a small town like many others in South Dakota. Businesses nudge up against each other and cars are angled in front of their glass doors.

But, for the last 36 years, Clear Lake has been holding a special title.

"It's the oldest parade, continuous parade in South Dakota. And, it's the first St. Patty's parade that has lasted this long," said Gerry B. Law, a longtime supporter of the parade.

It all started with then Sheriff Patrick Culhane.

"He thought there were too many Norwegians in this area, so he thought we have to do something about that," said Law. "So, he gathered students and different people and they had a parade."

With a population hovering around 1300, KSFY wondered who's been keeping this tradition alive.

"Everybody, anybody," said Law.

History has noted that the success of the celebration is that it gets people to have fun and forget their troubles, at least on St. Patty's Day.

Considering it's a tradition that Clear Lake holds dear, the entire day is precisely planned. First, there's the afternoon parade that's taken the same route for years. Then, there's a meal at the Community Center complete with Irish stew.

"It just happened that I won first place and this was the first Irish stew contest in South Dakota. So, I'm the one that has that title which was good, good for Clear Lake," said Law.

After a few Irish jigs it's time for the pie auction, which raises thousands of dollars for the local hospital.

"And, then they'd not only buy them they'd eat them on the spot," said Robert Law, Gerry's husband.

With Sheriff Culhane now living out west, Robert and Gerry see to it that this very recognized event keeps gracing itself in green every year.

"On February 19th, 1982 the Secretary of the State of South Dakota, Alice Kundert, certified the 57th session, legislative assembly of the state of South Dakota adopted a house resolution recognizing Clear Lake as the South Dakota home of the St. Patrick's Day parade," said Law.

In a town full of Scandinavians, this historic St. Patty's Day celebration is for those that are just a pinch Irish and for those with a "Mc" in their last name.

"It demonstrates the legendary melting pot," said Law. See, that's what I said! All celebrate the day and enjoy it!"

Clear Lake's 37th annual St. Patty's Day parade is Monday, March 17th at 4:00 p.m.

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