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Norwich - The city's first St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival will be held at a usually dry time of year, when residents and businesses are ready to gear up for spring and hit the streets, organizers said at a press conference on Thursday announcing the event.
The parade will step off at 1 p.m. March 9 from the parking lot behind Otis Library on Main Street and will progress along a tight route of streets in the heart of downtown, limiting lengthy road closures along with maximizing parking and business participation, members of the festival committee said Thursday.
The date, more than a week before St. Patrick's Day on March 17, avoids competition with other major parades in the region, officials said.
The Mystic Highland Pipe Band will be one headliner at the Norwich event, and organizers Thursday named Supervisory State's Attorney for Norwich Thomas M. Griffin as parade grand marshal. Griffin thanked the organizing committee for the "privilege" of serving as grand marshal.
The committee of business members, city police officers, Mayor Deberey Hinchey and Fire Chief Kenneth Scandariato has been meeting for the past several months to organize the inaugural event.
The Capano family, which owns the Harp & Dragon Irish Pub and local Shop Rite Supermarket stores, kicked off the fundraising effort by committing $15,000 to the event, committee member Scott Capano said. American Ambulance, Levine Distributing Co. and F&F Distributors, Inc. collectively have committed another $10,000 to the event, Capano said.
The committee hopes to raise about $50,000 for the first year's event to cover fees to participating bands, police coverage, cleanup and marketing. Some of the money would be saved for next year's parade and festival. No public funding from the city is being used for the parade.
"This is the first annual," Capano said. "There will be a second."
Jeanne Ireland, a Norwich resident who works at Mystic Aquarium, said with her name, she had to join the committee. Ireland stressed the festival portion of the event. While St. Patrick's Day parades often are associated with "shenanigans" and drinking, this event will have plenty of activities for families and children.
The festival is expected to offer face painting and a petting zoo. Restaurants will participate - including downtown bars - but the drinking will be in those establishments, Ireland said.
Miria Toth, office and marketing manager for the Norwich Community Development Corp., said at least 10 groups have said they will participate in the parade thus far. The admission fee for floats is $50, but discounts are available for nonprofit and civic groups.
For information, to register a float or to donate, contact Miria Toth, c/o NCDC, 77 Main St., Norwich CT 06360. (860) 887-6964. Email firstname.lastname@example.org