Shamrocks, drunken screaming, trucks, marching bands, banners and batons filled New Haven’s gray, rainy streets with a sea of green March 14, the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day. But by the end of the day’s festivities, 26 people found themselves in a pinch, and not for forgetting to wear green.
Police arrested six people on the parade route itself, New Haven Police Department spokesman Joe Avery said March 15, and about 20 more on Crown Street after the parade.
A letter from the NHPD to revelers before the parade had warned of strict enforcement. Police and parade organization said last month that alcohol enforcement would increase at this year’s parade, after last year’s event reached a drunken crescendo, with a smashed store window and a blocked ambulance.
In February, parade coordinator Eileen Donadio said the city intended to make the parade a more family-friendly event this year and police would be enforcing the city’s open-container laws. Ward 7 Alderworman Frances “Bitsie” Clark said prior to the event that anyone seen drinking alcohol in public during the parade would be immediately arrested.
But the warning did not stop alcohol consumption completely. In addition to those arrested for drinking on the premises, several spectators emerged half-naked from the pubs on Chapel Street between York and Crown streets. Other aficionados of the Irish patron saint yelled about the large quantities of booze they had drunk before the parade had even started.
Along Chapel Street, inebriated young adults made crude jibes such as “Can we get in the car? We’ve got weed” as a float of young, attractive women passed by the intersection of Chapel and York streets.
Throughout the afternoon, residents young and old marched through the rain to the applause and cheers of emerald-clad onlookers at New Haven’s 168th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. While some of the parade participants looked dismal as they trudged through the downpour, others danced through the street merrily, sporting oversized ponchos.
“Forget the rain! There is no rain!” shouted Tony Dorsey as the parade went by.
The parade, Connecticut’s largest single-day spectator event, was sponsored by the New Haven Gaelic Football and Hurling Club, Knights Of St. Patrick, Ancient Order Of Hibernians and West Haven Irish Club.
Still, many younger residents were content to watch the rich array of colored flags and outfits. The parade also featured several schools and other youth groups. New Haven youth showed off their talents — playing musical instruments, twirling batons and riding unicycles.
While many of the parade’s participants wore traditional military uniforms and held smoking rifles, some were clad as “Star Wars” characters and pirates. Jack Sparrow made a guest appearance.
Several business owners and residents emerged from restaurants and houses off Chapel Street to view the festivities. Street vendors sold green blow-up shamrocks, stuffed animals and a plethora of umbrellas, and one man painted faces in the safety of his stand’s rainbow umbrella.