March 12, 2006
By REGINE LABOSSIERE, Courant Staff Writer
Cheers were heard all over downtown
as Connecticut Irish and others flooded part of Hartford to watch
the city's 35th St. Patrick's Day parade.
Organizers estimated that nearly 50,000
people crowded the parade route, many of whom were family members
keeping up a generations-old tradition, such as the parade's grand
marshal, Stan Tuller, and his son, parade deputy marshal Richard
And many were revelers, intent on keeping
the Guinness flowing from before the parade started at 11 a.m. until
the bars shut down.
The high attendance was partially due
to the spring-like 60-degree weather and sunny sky. And, of course,
many came out because of St. Patrick himself.
"St. Patrick's Day is a great
day. I have taken the day off as a vacation day or a holiday for
practically my whole life. It's a day that should be observed,"
said Stan Tuller, who six weeks ago learned that the Central Connecticut
Celtic Cultural Committee named him parade marshal.
"I'm very excited and pleased.
It's quite an honor," said Tuller, 71.
Tuller, who lives in East Hartford,
grew up experiencing St. Patrick's Day as a big event, and has passed
the tradition on to his children. He said most of his eight children
were at the parade.
T. Connolly, of Canton, said his young
sons look forward to the parade every year, much as he has in the
three decades he has attended.
"It's really an opportunity to
get out for the first time all year," Connolly said of the
emergence of spring coinciding with the holiday. "And see people
you haven't seen, see people you know."
Some family traditions were in the
making on Saturday.
Elizabeth Kelly, 40, of Wethersfield,
attended the parade for the first time to watch her daughter perform
in the Wethersfield High School marching band.
Kelly said she had no clue why it took
her decades to attend, but she said, "I'm glad I came. I love
"This is great for Hartford. I'm
glad it's such a great day," Kelly said, adding that she would
return next year, weather permitting.
Richard Taylor has begun his own tradition.
The hot dog vendor returned to his parade spot, at Asylum and High
streets, for the third year in a row. His everyday spot is on the
500 block of Wethersfield Avenue.
"It's great business, great people
interaction," said Taylor, 41, of Bloomfield. "It's the
busiest day of the year."
His stand was near the section of Asylum,
in front of Pig's Eye Pub, that just may have been the biggest party
spot of the morning.
Vendors dotted the packed sidewalk
with a plethora of Irish paraphernalia (shamrock necklace, anyone?),
and hot dogs and pretzels.
Partygoers, some wearing jerseys from
the University of Notre Dame (they are the Fighting Irish, after
all), passed around pints of Guinness and cheered for the floats,
marching bands and veterans who passed them.
But the party didn't stop there. Vaughn's,
an Irish pub on Pratt Street, hosted a block party after the parade.
Another Pratt Street bar, Sweet Jane's,
invited the thirsty and not-so-thirsty inside by boasting on its
fliers "ain't nothin wrong with car bombs for breakfast,"
in reference to a drink that not even all frequent bar patrons could
handle: dunking a shot of half Irish cream and half Irish whiskey
into a pint of Guinness, and chugging.
Mayor Mike's Restaurant also had a
party that started serving corned beef sandwiches and beverages
at 9 a.m.
Although the parade and the festivities,
for some, ended about 1:30 p.m., it was clear that, for many others,
the good times were just starting.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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