The grand marshals of Saturday’s parade will be the Sullivan sisters. Next to the statue of St. Patrick at OLP Church are, from left, Jeanette Gloege, Theresa “Tilly” Sullivan and Joan Hartmann.
The grand marshals of Saturday’s parade will be the Sullivan sisters. Next to the statue of St. Patrick at OLP Church are, from left, Jeanette Gloege, Theresa “Tilly” Sullivan and Joan Hartmann.
by Dan Ruud
Céad Mile Fáilte, Irish for “a hundred thousand welcomes,” is what Belle Plaine St. Patrick’s celebration organizers are wishing for this Saturday on downtown streets and establishments.
Well, 100,000 is a stretch but there will be plenty of Irish welcoming taking place Saturday, three for sure being the Sullivan sisters –  Joan Hartmann, Jeanette Gloege and Theresa “Tilly” Sullivan. The trio will be grand marshals of the parade of clans, bagpipers and royalty, which will begin following the noon Mass at Our Lady of the Prairie Catholic Church and continue through downtown.
The three Irish Catholics, all of whom have visited their ancestral homeland once, asked that their photo for this article be taken at OLP Church next to the statue of St. Patrick, the primary patron saint of Ireland.
The Sullivan sisters, graduates of Belle Plaine High School, are no strangers to St. Patrick’s observances in Belle Plaine. Jeanette has been one of the event’s key organizers for a few decades and still is. Before her, older sister Joan was a member of the committee that organized the first Mass for the celebration.
The Sullivan sisters’ parents, the late Leo and Mag Sullivan, were grand marshals of the parade in 1986. Little did they know then that three of their daughters would be following their lead 31 years later.
Tilly’s twin brother, Terry “Buckeye” Sullivan, was the emcee of the post-parade program and queen coronation in 2011. Serving in that capacity in 2014 was Joan’s son, Tony Hartmann. This year, it will be Jeanette’s daughter, Heidi (Piche).
The oldest of the Sullivan sisters, Mary Kay Halloran, died in 1995. The brothers in the family are Pat, Terry and Dan.
The Sullivan kids were raised on the family farm in the historic Irish community of nearby St. Thomas, which is located in Derrynane Township.
According to family literature, the family “O’Sullivans” originated in County Cork, Ireland. In 1847, some of the families had already settled in St. Thomas and St. Paul, Minn.
The Sullivan sisters’ grandparents, Eugene and Mary (Tracy) Sullivan, settled in St. Thomas/Derrynane Township in the early 1900s. Their old farmhouse still stands.
Joan and her husband, Bob Hartmann, had eight children – Steve, Joe, Susie, Jackie, Molly and Tony. Connie and Mike are deceased. Jeanette and her husband, Kirk Gloege, raised three kids – Ric, Heidi and Casey. Tilly, who was married to the late Denny Fahey, has one daughter, Jessie.
Jeanette said money for the local St. Patrick’s celebration was very tight when she became a member of the committee in the 1980s.
“We used to have to sell handkerchiefs and T-shirts to raise money,” said Jeanette, who brought a 1990 Belle Plaine St. Patrick’s Day Celebration hankie with her to OLP Church for last Tuesday’s picture taking. She also has Belle Plaine St. Patrick’s hankies from the late 1980s. Hankies became popular items to sell after the Minnesota Twins, with the crowd waiving “Homer Hankies,” won the 1987 World Series.
Jeanette was employed by Scott County for many years and is now retired. Joan, busy with a number of children, was a homemaker. Tilly currently works for The Mulch Store in Shakopee.
Tilly spoke for her and her two elder sisters when she said “we are looking forward to representing Belle Plaine as grand marshals for the St. Patrick’s Parade with family.”
Being the oldest of the Sullivan sisters, Joan said the order of the day Saturday, or everyday for that matter, is Sláinte mhaith, which is Irish for “good health.”