Since they were little, the New Richmond St. Patrick's Day parade has been a family tradition for brother and sister Matt Kearns, 36, and Cailin Kearns, 33.
"I have memories all the way back to childhood of attending the St. Patrick's Day parade. I always enjoyed the bagpipers and the horses. I try to make it back for the parade each year," Cailin said.
On Sunday, March 17, the siblings will get the chance to lead the way down the parade route as grand marshals of the 2019 St. Patrick's Day Parade. The parade will start at 2 p.m.
"It's a high honor for us. The McCabe's and Driscoll's have been a big part of our lives aside from the parade, and as mentioned before, the parade is a standard not only for our family, but the whole town. In that sense, now we feel like bona fide members of the Irish history in the area," Matt said. "The St. Patrick's Day parade has always been our tradition; a constant in our family's celebration."
According to Cailin, the Kearns are 100 percent Irish American - confirmed with a genealogy test - with Irish heritage running deep on both sides of the family. Many of the family's ancestors settled in Erin Prairie.
"More than anything, we're just thrilled that the parade continues. That we get the opportunity to spend the day with friends and family and celebrate the heritage. But who knows, maybe we'll start acting more smugly when visiting The Shamrock," Matt said.
Although neither sibling currenlty lives in New Richmond, they were both raised in the city and lived here until they went off to college. Cailin lives in Minneapolis and works as a sales engineer with Jamf, a software company there, while Matt is a firefighter in the Minnesota DNR's forest fire and aviation section and lives with his wife, Joni, and son, Oliver, in Duluth. Both siblings try to make it back to New Richmond as often as possible to visit their parents, Mark and Rita, and their grandmother Marguerite Maloney.
"My mom would make us green eggs and ham or green pancakes for breakfast when we were young. It's one of my favorite holidays because everyone - friends and family - comes together in celebration," Cailin said.
The pair, along with their family, have been involved with the parade many times, with many family members - including their parents, grandparents, great aunts and uncles, as well as family friends - being named grand marshals in the past. The siblings' close and extended family (such as the Maloneys, Donahues and Earleys) also marched in the parade throughout the years.
"St. Patrick's Day is always big for our family. Many people travel to New Richmond for the festivities. It has always been a great way to start the spring with family and community coming out to celebrate," Matt said.