New group for St. Pat's parade in New London pushes ahead with plans, declines offer of assistance

New London - The newbies organizing a St. Patrick's Day parade in the city would rather do it themselves.

A group of a dozen volunteers who are planning a March 17 downtown parade declined an offer by the New London Irish Parade Committee to use its nonprofit status and help defray costs.

"This is my take, it's all our take on it,'' said Sean Murray, head of the New London St. Patrick's Day Parade committee. "If they're doing a parade somewhere else, we have no problem with that. We're not here to compete with anyone. We just want to get it done and make it a lot of fun."

But he added that if members of the original group want to volunteer and help, they are welcome.

City Councilor Marie Friess-McSparran, president of New London Irish Parade, said the new group "declined any help, collaboration from us whatsoever, and that's that."

"That would include any financial support from us at all," she said. As for committee members volunteering, Friess-McSparran said "if they choose to help with that parade, that's up to them."

The New London Irish Parade Committee, which has organized the parade for the past two years, voted to hold its parade out of town after a dispute with the city over money. It announced it was in discussions with another community to hold the parade there.

"We're not ready at this time to make any announcement," Friess-McSparran said. "The New London Irish Parade works all year as an organization, so we continue to do our work."

After the new group formed and announced they would hold a parade in the city, Friess-McSparran's committee approached them saying they would like to do a single parade. They offered to help with finances and insurance costs, Murray said.

His group declined the offer in a letter this week to Friess-McSparran and her committee. Murray said the Downtown New London Association is sponsoring them and is covering insurance costs.

"But if they would like to come to our meetings, it would definitely be under the spirit of working together,'' he said.

Murray said his committee has been granted a permit from the city and will have to pay about $7,000. The parade route has been shortened and will start on Bank and South Water streets, go up State Street and end at Washington Street.

The group is working on a T-shirt fundraiser and hopes to sponsor a design-a-float contest. Five winners will have flatbed trucks, which have been donated, to create their designs.

Bars, restaurants and businesses are also being approached to participate, Murray said. The committee estimates it will need to raise about $15,000.

Murray said he would also like to see more music in the parade, including a Celtic, folk or bluegrass band that would ride on a flatbed truck and then perform a free concert at the end of the parade.

The parade will be held on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, which next year falls on a Sunday.


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