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A Four-Leaf Clover Day To Be Irish

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 Tuller.

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 it."

"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. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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