CEDAR RAPIDS — Kelly Glynn has been participating in the SaPaDaPaSo parade each St. Patrick’s Day his whole life. But Sunday’s parade was one he will always remember.
That’s because he and Krista Hennager turned the Glynn family float into their wedding venue. The couple literally tied the knot with a Celtic handfasting ceremony before the float started rolling, then exchanged vows from the float midway through the parade.
“It’s a second marriage for both of us, so we were trying to come up with something unique, and we didn’t want to do a big wedding ceremony,” Hennager said. “And the parade is really important in Kelly’s family.”
The “Glynn Gang,” as the family is known in the parade, has been part of SaPaDaPaSo (St. Patrick’s Day Parade Society) since its inception in 1976. Glynn’s great-aunt Anne Kelly — his first name is in honor of her last name — participated in the first parade. The Glynn Gang has regularly had its own float, and Kelly Glynn has been a parade marshal in years past.
“The parade is about togetherness, Irish heritage and spending time together as a family,” he said.
He proposed to Hennager in August 2017. The next spring, as they were celebrating after the 2018 SaPaDaPaSo parade, she raised the idea of having their wedding during the parade the following year.
This is not the first time the Glynn family has timed a wedding around the parade, Hennager said, but it is the first time a family member has held the actual marriage on a float during the parade.
Glynn, who lives in Clarence, said members of his family — nearly 100 of the them — regularly travel back to Cedar Rapids from as far away as California and Texas for St. Patrick’s Day. That includes five sisters, three brothers and numerous nieces and nephews and their families.
“It’s really extended through generations, which makes it fun. The parade is a big thing to come back for,” Hennager said.
For the float, Glynn carved a wooden Claddagh ring, which represents love, loyalty and friendship. He sang “Kiss Me, I’m Irish,” to Hennager as the float rolled along the route.
For apparel, Hennager chose an emerald green dress, while Glynn opted for an Irish kilt with matching bow tie, paired with a tuxedo jacket.
“I decided to go half Irish and half American,” he said.
The Celtic handfasting ceremony they planned involves symbolically binding the couple by tying their hands together. They had a party afterward and are planning a more traditional reception this summer.
“This is my third year being part of the parade. I think it’s just a lot of fun,” Hennager said. “I have Irish ancestry, too, but I’ve never tapped into it before.”
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