Break out the green clothing and raise a mug of green beer. St. Patrick's Day is just ahead — and so are St. Patrick's Day parades in Hartford, New Haven, Mystic and other towns around Connecticut. Most of the parades are the weekend before St. Patrick's Day, which is March 17, with Bridgeport, Mystic and Greenwich marching closer to the date.
Eileen Moore, chairwoman of the Hartford event on Saturday, March 11, says the March festivities are an annual tradition for the tens of thousands of spectators who line downtown streets to watch the 5,000 marchers from Cromwell, East Hartford, Glastonbury, Hartford, Manchester, New Britain, Newington, South Windsor, West Hartford and Wethersfield celebrate Irish culture.
"The parade signals the end of winter and the beginning of spring," says Moore, who is serving her 10th year as the parade's chairwoman. "People come out. They tailgate. They party. And they wear green. Oh boy, do they wear green. Green wigs. Shamrocks. It looks like a million leprechauns exploded along the parade route."
Along with local marching bands, floats, dancers, parade participants include professional fife & drum corps, bugle corps and bagpipers. The Yard Goats’ mascots, Chompers and Chew Chew, along with two live goats, are also expected to march, as are Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, U.S. Rep. John Larsen — and crowd favorite Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.
"You can count on Nancy Wyman to be marching in a stellar pair of heels and charming everyone along the way," says Moore.
The 46th Hartford parade, presented by the Central Connecticut Celtic Cultural Committee, steps off at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 11, at Capitol Avenue by the Capitol building, takes a left on Main Street, a left on Asylum Avenue, a left on Ford Street and ends by the Memorial Arch.
Expect downtown to be crowded. Also happening that weekend are the the American Athletic Conference men’s basketball tournament at the XL Center and a Spirit Festival at the Connecticut Convention Center. Parking options during the parade will be available on the at hartford.com. Garage locations, rates and hours can be found at hartfordparking.com/
According to the parade website, irishamericanparade.com, these roads will be closed at 9:30 a.m.: Capitol Avenue between Broad Street and Washington Street; Hungerford Street between Capitol Avenue and Russ Street; Oak Street between Capitol Avenue and Russ Street; Washington Street between Capitol Avenue and Buckingham Street; and Trinity Street for the entire length; and Capitol Avenue exit ramp off I-84 east.
These roads will close at 10:40 a.m.: Capitol Avenue between Broad Street and Main Street; Main Street between Buckingham Street and Church Street; Asylum Street between Main Street and Spruce Street; and Ford Street for the entire length; and the Colin Whitehead Highway at Columbus Boulevard exit.
The parade will be broadcast live on Fox 61 beginning at 11:30 a.m., and will be rebroadcast on St. Patrick's Day at noon on WCCT-TV. irishamericanparade.com.
Greater New Haven St. Patrick's Day Parade, which began in 1842, is one of the oldest in the country, according to organizers. The parade begins at 1:30 p.m, on Sunday, March 12, features thousands of marchers and hundreds of thousands of spectators. It starts at Chapel Street and Sherman Avenue and ends at Orange Street. stpatricksdayparade.org.
Milford's St. Patrick's Day Parade kicks off at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 11, in downtown Milford. The parade draws close to 20,000 spectators and features marching bands, floats and civic groups.
New London celebrates Irish pride with a St. Patrick's Day parade on Sunday, March 12, at 1 p.m. in downtown New London. facebook.com/stpatricksnewlondon/
Bridgeport holds its annual St. Patrick Day parade on Friday, March 17, at noon. stpatricksdaybridgeport.com/
Mystic's St. Patrick's Day Parade takes place this year on Sunday, March 19, at 1 p.m. mysticirishparade.org.
The annual Greenwich St. Patrick's Day Parade is on March 19 at 2 p.m. greenwichhibernians.org
Courant staff writer Ken Gosselin contributed to this story.