» How better to celebrate the St. Patrick's Day wedding of a Mexican-American bride and an Irish-American groom?
Of course: With mariachis and bagpipes.
Rosa Valencia and Terrence O'Donnell will marry today at St. Bridget Catholic Church, combining their family traditions.
A mariachi band will play during the wedding, which will include a "wedding lasso," a rosary in a figure-8, which is placed around the bride and groom to symbolize unity. At the end, after they are announced as husband and wife, they will leave the church to the stirring sound of pipes.
Rosa is an administrative assistant for the State of Nebraska, and Terrence is a social studies teacher at Omaha South High who has taught in Colombia.
"The funny thing," Rosa said, "is that he speaks Spanish and I don't."
Rosa, 29, was featured in The World-Herald for her Latina coming-of-age ceremony at 15, the quinceañera. Her parents, Lou and Kathy, are Mexican-American.
Terrence, 31, is the son of Clem and Maggie O'Donnell — his ancestry is Irish and hers is "full-blooded Sicilian."
In the tradition of the American melting pot, the families combined this week to prepare food for the wedding reception — in this case, 865 enchiladas.
The tuxedoed men in the wedding party will wear green vests, including "junior best man" James Valencia-Soethout, Rosa's 10-year-old son. She and Terrence have a baby, named Esperanza Valencia-O'Donnell for Rosa's grandmother.
Terrence has visited Mexico, and the couple plan eventually to travel to Ireland. Rosa chuckled when I asked if they considered getting married on Cinco de Mayo (May 5), which also falls on a Saturday this year.
She said both families agreed that today is a fine day for a wedding. "We love St. Paddy's."
» Dr. Pat Kenney of Omaha celebrates his 80th birthday today, and yes, he said, he was named Patrick because he was born on March 17.
But, he told a Thursday luncheon of the Omaha Business Men's Association, he didn't find out until looking at his birth certificate while seeking a driver's license at 16 that his father, Dr. Bernard Kenney, was the attending physician.
His parents explained that a blizzard on St. Patrick's Day in 1932 kept a doctor in a nearby town from making it to the Kenney home in Dodge, Neb. So his father stepped in — with quite a little help from Pat's mother, naturally.
This weekend, Kenney offspring from Arizona, California and Minnesota have traveled to Omaha to help Pat and wife Helen celebrate.
» Correction: Last Saturday's column mentioned a Jewish lawyer's role in the founding of Boys Town. It should have said Henry Monsky, whose legacy I have written about in the past. I erroneously used the name of his son, Hub Monsky.
Henry Monsky was a close friend of Father Edward Flanagan, the Irish priest whom Boys Town and the Omaha Archdiocese are now proposing for sainthood.
» For the first St. Patrick's Day in 28 years, Kevin Quinn of Omaha will not be singing in public.
"I'm going to miss it," said Kevin, who is laid up after foot surgery. "I can't imagine not being out there."
A public affairs specialist for the Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha, Kevin has played for the County Corkers, Celtic Wind, the Turfmen and his current group, Donnybrook. Today, he said, he'll stay home, play Irish music CDs and enjoy corned beef.
» Public TV's Rick Steves, who spoke in Omaha this week, has visited Ireland many times — as he has the rest of Europe over the past three decades.
Yes, he said, the Irish are great conversationalists, but some can be cryptic and even literal. Meeting a man in western Ireland, Rick asked: "Were you born here?"
"Nah," the man said. "Five miles down the road."
"Well, have you lived here all your life?" Rick asked.
Replied the Irishman: "Not yet."
That got a good laugh Monday evening from the more than 600 people who packed the Witherspoon Concert Hall at Joslyn Art Museum to hear Steves speak about travel, on behalf of Nebraska Educational Television. It was part of his 20-cities-in-20-days "Breadbasket Byways" auto tour from his home in Seattle to Florida.
Travelers overseas often collect trinkets as memories, he noted, "but one of the best souvenirs you can take home is a broader perspective."
» Marty Dowds, who toured the world as a lead dancer for Riverdance, will give a 15-minute St. Patrick's Day performance tonight that is sure to dazzle.
Marty, who now lives in Omaha and operates Dowds Irish Dance Academy at 3015 N. 90th St., will perform at the annual Cathedral Comedy & Cuisine fundraising dinner for St. Cecilia Elementary School at Creighton Prep. (Tickets, $100, are available at 402-552-0770.)
Marty is a former All-Ireland, British National and world champion Irish dancer.
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