Thousands of spectators lined the route to watch more than 5,000 marchers make their way from Capitol Avenue and through the streets of downtown Hartford for the city's 43rd annual St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Parking lots in the area opened at 5 a.m. as drivers pulled in ready to set up and tailgate. While the parade was not scheduled to start until 11 a.m., revelers arrived hours in advance to get a front row seat to the festivities.
“We've been coming to this parade for 15 years now,” said Simsbury resident John Ackles. “We went to bed early last night to get up early today and to make sure we have our spot.”
The spots went quickly in the parking lot on Asylum Street, and the grills were fired up soon after.
“We are making corn beef and cabbage,” Donald Kelly, of Hartford, said. “I’m Irish and my wife is Irish and there’s no better place to be on a day like today.”
A few tailgaters even brought heaters after learning their lesson on a cold day at the parade last year. With such a long winter, they did not want to take any chances.
“The heater is an upgrade from last year and we’re all layered up. I got another couple of layers in the truck,” Aaron Jones, of Manchester, said.
Bars and restaurants opened up as early as 7 a.m. to accommodate all of the spectators as Hartford police monitored the area, making sure it did not get out of control.