Meet Our Dignitaries

Each year we chose multiple dignitaries who are pillars of the community to lead our parade.  We cannot thank them enough for generously donating their time and for all they do for our community!

2022 Miss Shamrock: Christine Hanley

The queen figure of our parade and the official representative of our Association and St. Paul’s Irish community.

Christine was born and raised in various Saint Paul suburbs. She attended Winona State University and majored in Cell and Molecular Biology. She is currently serving in the Navy as a Senior Chief Petty Officer and attending graduate school at Northwestern Health Sciences University pursuing her Doctorate in Chiropractic. She has a 10-year-old son named Landon, two dogs, and a cat. She enjoys playing trivia with friends at local (and not-so-local) Irish pubs, attempting to learn Irish dancing, and spending time at local parks. Christine is enthusiastic about her Irish heritage and building genuine connections with people through shared experiences.

“I am proud to be Irish because it means that I don’t simply rely on luck. I come from a community that isn’t afraid to work to get what they need, a people that persevere through even the darkest times with joy in their hearts because they know there is a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end — a family who is able to celebrate the good in spite of the bad. I firmly believe that after the havoc the pandemic has played in the lives of many over the past couple of years, the city of St. Paul needs the Irish spirit now more than ever and I want to give it to them – they deserve it. Let them have Craic!” -Christine Hanley, Miss Shamrock 2022

2020-2022 Mr. Pat: Peter Kenefick

The king figure of the parade, Mr. Pat embodies the spirit of Saint Patrick’s Day. Watch for him at our events.

It’s been said, “You can take the boy out of St. Paul, but you can’t take St. Paul out of the boy.” Peter Emmett Kenefick, Mr. Pat 2020-2021 is living testament of this St. Paul wisdom. Born, raised, and a member of St. Therese parish, Peter graduated as Highland Park High School class president in 1974. He married his now wife of 40 years and bought a house in Edina (or, as Peter used to describe its location, as living on “Gleason and Crosstown”). His job 30 plus years ago brought him to the shores of Lake Minnetonka where Peter is a Senior Vice President – Wealth Management with UBS Financial Services. 

Peter, along with his partners, owns Emmett’s Public House, hanging its shingle in 2015 on St. Patrick’s Day, a goal and a dream come true for the Kenefick family. Not a stranger to Grand Avenue, Peter has been operating on the Avenue for over 35 years at two long-standing restaurants, Dixie’s on Grand and Saji-Ya. As a board member of GABA, this year Peter is the Grand Old Day chairperson.

By way of pedigree, Peter was recommended by Pat O’Neill, Mr. Pat 2006. Peter’s dad, Emmett Kenefick (1933-2013) was the inspiration for the cozy pub, coming from the Kenefick clan hailing from County Cork. Peter’s mother, Ann, comes from a long line of O’Connor’s, and his grandmother, another familiar St. Paul Irish name, was a Horrigan. 

“I am honored and humbled to have been able to have a presence in St. Paul and Grand Avenue for so many years – and many more to come. I look forward to being part of the upcoming events and will not take my duties as Mr. Pat lightly. It’s a privilege to be in the same clubhouse with such outstanding people who have gone before me in this honorary role,” said Peter. “Stop by one of the restaurants and buy your button – we’ve been selling them for years, but this year will be extra special!”

2022 Distinguished Irish Woman – Katie Stephens Spangler 

The Distinguished Irish Woman is, of course, Irish. She has also done outstanding work in her field and in the community. Each year the Association recognizes a hard working Irish woman (is there any other kind?) from the community.

Katie Stephens Spangler is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and began her involvement in the Irish community as a dancer with the Trinity Academy of Irish Dance. She performed and competed all over the world for 11 years with Trinity and also assisted with teaching classes.  Many of her family members have been long-time volunteers with Milwaukee Irish Fest.

Katie moved to St. Paul in 1998 and taught Irish dance for four years with the St. Paul Irish Dancers while attending the University of St. Thomas.  During that time, she performed at events, concerts and pubs throughout the Twin Cities.  Katie graduated from UST in May of 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and went on to open Rince na Chroi in February of 2003. Under Katie’s direction over nearly two decades, Rince na Chroi has grown tremendously.

Rince na Chroi currently enrolls about 200 dancers as young as 3 up through adults.  They perform throughout the Twin Cities and the Midwest and strive to share their love of dance as much as possible.  The group averages 100+ public appearances each year.  Rince na Chroi is committed to performances and teamwork.

Katie served on the Board of Directors for the Irish Music and Dance Association from 2005-2006. She served on the Board of Directors for the Irish Fair of Minnesota from 2010-2017, including holding the positions of Board Secretary and Marketing Committee Chair.  Katie lives in St. Paul with her husband Jason, her two children, Alice and Robbie, and their dog, Sweeney.

2022 Grand Marshal – Zophia Raleigh

A guest of honor asked to lead the parade.

Zophia is the only Miss Shamrock to hold the title for two years (2020-2021) and not lead the St. Patrick’s Day parade. The Association couldn’t think of a better person to be our 2022 Grand Marshal than Zophia who did a brilliant job navigating the role during a global pandemic. 

Zophia was born and raised in a suburb of Saint Paul. She attended the University of Minnesota and majored in Agriculture and works for Cargill as a Business Analyst. While in school, she studied abroad in Limerick, Ireland for a semester and was able to fully immerse herself in the Irish culture. In the summer you can find her at Irish cultural events, playing camogie, or frequenting one of the local Irish pubs. Zophia’s true passion is to share what it means to be proud of heritage and helping to bring the community together by making strong connections between people.

2022 Celebrity Grand Marshal – Miss Minnesota, Elle Mark

A celebrity guest of honor asked to lead the parade.

Gabrielle “Elle” Mark competed for the title of Miss Minnesota and ultimately earned the job of a life time on June 25th, 2021. She is an honors graduate from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse with her Bachelors degree in Public Health & Community Health Education. To date, Elle has been awarded over $20,000 in educational scholarships through the Miss America Organization.

During Elle’s undergraduate career, she spent a significant amount of time researching and performing health education programming surrounding the topics of mental health and wellness as well as the prevention of mental distress.

Elle’s passion for promoting mental wellness stems from her personal experience with mental health disorders. In an effort to help others through the struggles she encountered with mental illness, Elle became involved with the Miss America Organization. The Miss America Organization provided her with the platform and the opportunity to reach more people, and to share her personal mental health journey to help to guide others through theirs. 

As Miss Minnesota, Elle has partnered with The Campaign to Change Direction to promote their 5 Healthy Habits of Emotional Well-BeingYou can find her speaking in local schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, and businesses. These 5 Healthy Habits focus on preventing mental distress through the promotion of activities that can improve everyone’s mental health.

 

2020-2022 Honorary Irishman: Dr. Randy Stinchfield

Saint Pat’s Day may be an Irish holiday, but it’s a day for all cultures to enjoy. Each year the Association names a non-Irish member of the community as its Honorary Irishman. While this person is not necessarily Irish, he embodies the spirit and character of the Irish and the holiday.

The 2020-2021 Honorary Irishman is Mr. Pat’s brother-in-law, and a true Swede, Dr. Randy Stinchfield. Growing up in Richfield and a 1974 graduate of Richfield High School, his geography forever changed to the Summit Hill neighborhood, when his wife of now 39 years, Patsy, fell in love with an old Tudor-style home where they moved into after graduate school, and raised their two daughters, Megan and Shannon.

Randy met Mr. Pat’s sister, Patsy Kenefick, in college and his first invitation/date for Patsy to visit his Swedish relatives’ dairy farm near Taylor’s Falls was declined – who then later agreed (not so stubborn Irish?!)

Randy and Patsy are avid sports fans and coaches, coaching their daughters volleyball, soccer, and softball teams over the years at the Linwood Rec Center. They were recognized for their contributions to the neighborhood, receiving the 2007 Summit Hill Association Good Neighborhood Award. Megan and Shannon have also performed Irish dance at the Irish Fair – so Randy and Patsy have cultivated the Irish spirit in their home, and abroad when they toured Ireland on their bikes. Look for pictures hanging at Emmett’s Public House from their Irish escapades. Randy is also an avid photographer. 

Randy’s non-Irish pedigree hails from Leeds England, and Randy is the tenth generation of his Stinchfield family in the US. His mother’s family are more recent immigrants from Sweden, and his maternal grandmother, Gerda Paulson-Berntson spoke Swedish in the home.

“Being part of the Kenefick clan predisposes me to all things Irish, and I am proud to be wearing the green tonight,” said Randy

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