Virginia McGeary has been to every St. Patrick's Day parade in Benson since Duffy's Bar started organizing the event 18 years ago. While she has ridden in the parade a few times, this year, she'll be the grand marshal -- and for a very special reason.
McGeary, who is half Irish and half French, will turn 100 years old this June.
"I've been in the parade before, yes, but it wasn't any big deal," McGeary said. "I'm not in it every year. This year I'm going to be the grand marshal and ride in the parade."
McGeary said she enjoys going to the St. Patrick's Day events in Benson because the whole community comes out for the festivities.
"People in the community like to go," she said. "It's just fun. It's fun to see all of the local people."
Around the area, several communities will host St. Patrick's Day events. If you attend any of them, make sure to wear green, eat some shepherd's pie and kiss the Blarney Stone.
Duffy's Bar and Grill will host the 18th annual St. Patrick's Day celebration today in Benson. The parade will begin at 3 p.m. and follow the same route as other years, beginning at 13th Street and ending at the bar.
Pat Duffy, who organizes the parade with his wife, Sandy, said he's expecting good turnout for the parade because the weather should be nice.
"We're usually battling the weather," said Duffy, who owns Duffy's Bar with his wife. "It's usually gray skies and wind chill. The year, there's the potential to have amazing weather."
From 4 to 8 p.m., Irish music will play in the bar. Mike Rooney will act as master of ceremonies, a role he's held since the event began. At 9 p.m., the band Silverback will take the stage.
Throughout the night, there will be plenty of green beer and Irish food, Duffy said. There will also be prizes awarded for the best banner in the parade, the best float and the "most boisterous clan."
A potential contender for that most boisterous clan award is the "McWannabes," a group of around 40 children and adults who are not Irish, but ride around town in a green and white school bus on St. Patrick's Day.
"They have a lot of fun with it," Duffy said. "Everyone's Irish that day."
Today's celebration in Padua begins with a shamrock hunt at noon. Afterward, food and drinks will be served in the reception hall connected to the Padua Pub.
The parade begins at 1 p.m., followed by a sing-along in the pub. From 4:30 to 9 p.m., food will be served in the hall. Clara Rooney, the wife of Padua Pub owner David Rooney, said there will be plenty of food, including Irish stew, shepherd's pie, cabbage rolls, green bread and desserts.
At 9 p.m., music and dancing will begin in the reception hall.
Clara Rooney said that the parade and events should be heavily attended this year because St. Patrick's Day falls on a Saturday.
"Six years ago it fell on a Saturday, and we had 1,800 people come out," Rooney said. "People come out from all the neighboring towns. It's really a fun, community event."
The St. Patrick's Day parade kicks off at 4 p.m. today in downtown Montevideo. This year's parade will include a drum and bugle corps, as well as bagpipers. Phyllis Mitchell, manager of the Montevideo VFW Post, said many people come out for the parade every year.
"The streets are usually lined for the parade," Mitchell said. "There's not much of it, but everyone loves it."
From 5 to 8 p.m., a brat and baked potato bar will be served at the VFW. There will also be drawings and giveaways, including a drawing for a new television.
Karaoke starts at 6 p.m. for families, and the "adult version" begins at 8 p.m. and lasts until 1 a.m., Mitchell said.
During the afternoon, Mitchell said that the St. Patrick's Day events offer family-friendly entertainment.
"It's a real family event," Mitchell said. "The kids love it. I grew up in St. Paul and would go to the parade there, and I've noticed that it's much more of a community event here. I wouldn't miss it for anything."