NEWINGTON – Following a two-year hiatus, the town is returning to the Greater Hartford St. Patrick’s Day Parade this March. Newington once had an exceptional participation record, and it’s taken a push from a few Irish-blooded residents to return.
“I’m extremely happy to have Newington back in the lineup,” Parade Chairwoman Liz Saunders said this week. “The town has a long history with us.”
The parade is set for Saturday, March 9, to kick off on Capitol Avenue in Hartford at 11 a.m. The route heads by the State Capitol before making a left on Main Street and circling around to the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Bushnell Park. It takes place in rain, snow or shine, unless an emergency situation closes downtown streets.
“That is the typical Irish way,” said Tommy McBride, chairman of the 2019 Newington Parade Committee.
McBride served as the mayor of Newington from 2001 to 2005. He’s been involved in the parade for many years and can recall times when they marched through some true winter weather.
“Newington used to have huge fundraising dinners for the parade,” McBride remembered. “We’d sell two- or three-hundred tickets. There’s some long history there.”
In recent years it became more difficult to nail down committee leadership. Former chairmen couldn’t dedicate enough resources to the town’s participation. That’s when McBride stepped up to the plate. A second-generation American citizen whose grandparents were born in the Emerald Isle, his heritage is very important to him.
“Most of us who call ourselves Americans came from another place,” McBride said. “As we deal with the issue of immigration as a country there are people in Ireland who have been denied the ability to come here and make a better life for their families. This gives us the opportunity to remember who we are, where we come from and how we came to be here today.”
He’s looking for Newington groups willing to take part in the parade. Traditionally that would include Newington Police, EMS and Fire, along with school marching bands, elected officials and local Boy and Girl Scouts.
The Newington St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee is hosting a fundraiser at the Newington Knights of Columbus, 171 Pascone Place this Sunday, Jan. 13 from 2 to 5 p.m. Admission is a $15 donation. There will be food, drinks, and live music by a Celtic band.
“It should be a fun afternoon,” McBride said. “Come if you’re interested in volunteering or participating in the parade, or just want to help us out.”
He expects to announce Newington’s Honorary Irish Person of the Year during that day, along with the town’s Parade Marshal.
Newington joins eight other towns in the parade lineup. Hartford, Manchester, Wethersfield, Cromwell, East Hartford, West Hartford, Glastonbury and South Windsor have also signed on to participate.
“I’m very much looking forward to this year’s event,” Saunders said. “We’re very happy to have Tommy back at the helm. We look forward to having everyone come out and support the town and support the parade March 9.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or email@example.com.