By Herb Moering
St. Patrick’s Day could be called a breeze this year at Royal Palms Mobile Home Park in Alamo. The gusts on Friday were not enough to stop the annual Irish-themed park parade of decorated golf carts, pets, and a walker.
Reigning over the afternoon event were grand marshals Norm and Mary Hall, married for 75 years and park residents since 2001. The couple, who were given gifts for their participation, came to the Valley in 1990 after Mary retired from a long-time stint as a teacher’s aide that was part of Norm’s 38 years with the U.S. Air Force, a combination of seven years in the service and 31 years as a civilian employee. The period of 1949-52 they were in Germany as part of the Berlin Airlift. He also was at a Waco, TX training base for pilots during the Korean War. He ended his career in 1990 after 30 years at Lowery Air Force Base in Denver.
Jeanette Silvernail and Bob Johnson also were honored with a convertible ride through the park as both are about to reach the 90-year-old mark. Silvernail’s birthday is April 3 and Johnson’s on May 6.
Jeanette, who comes from Minnesota and a park resident since 2003, was a housewife who worked in the base PX store while her late husband was in the military for 27 and a half years. Johnson, who came to the Valley 25 years ago, owned a grain elevator in Iowa, farmed, and with his wife managed a golf course for 25 years. For 10 years when the course was closed, he and his wife drove a semi-truck from coast to coast.
Following the parade, activities moved into the clubhouse where residents chose the winning entrants. First place gift awards went to the golf cart of gaily dressed Roger and Wanda Peterson, walker Herb Moering, and top pet, Charlie the dog of Gale and Audry Stewart.
The coordinators, LeAnn Hummel, Maria Bermea, and Elba Cooper, served up the finger food followed by horse racing, featuring Joe Hummel as track announcer and Sandra Burgess and Carrol Moering as the jockeys for the six horses in each race. The racing included a betting window, causing residents to urge on their favorites.
Royal Palms may have been the only park to have a parade, with many parks opting for a traditional corn beef and cabbage dinner or a St. Patty’s dance. At Bit-O-Heaven RV & MH Park in Donna residents could do both the meal and the dance that evening.
Actually, the supper of corned beef brisket, cooked by a couple residents, and cabbage, potatoes and carrots, was the first time in conjunction with the dance, according to Susan Thomas, park activity director. It was also the first formal dinner inside the clubhouse since the covid lockdowns.
“Up until now all activities, like “happy hour” and even birthday celebrations, had been held outside,” she said. “Just now getting back to our normal activities.”
The dinner was popular with 110 attending, Thomas noted. A total of 150 came to the St. Pat’s dance, which featured The Roamers led by Fergus Dowling, which Thomas thought sounded Irish.
“This was a really good turnout,” and she was grateful for the many volunteers that made the event successful.
Among the crowd at the dance were Shoan and Melinda McCready, who definitely were proud of their Irish heritage. This was the Winter Texans’ fourth year at Bit-O-Heaven. They spend the summers in Iowa. They are motorcyclists and ride with friends from the park. Melinda said they enjoy the friendship of the people here in the Valley.
Also at the dance were Neil Davis and Wanda Duff, who enjoy the people too as well as the weather. While Duff originally hails from Iowa, she now spends her summers in Missouri as does Davis.
Wearing of the green remains as popular as ever in the celebration of the good works by the priest so closely associated with Ireland, the emerald isle, who died on March 17 in the fifth century.