Even though St. Patrick’s Day isn’t until a week from Sunday, both Hartford and New Haven are preparing to host their annual parades this weekend.
"It’s an opportunity to spread the holiday over two weeks," said Jim Moriarty, spokesperson for the Greater Hartford St. Patrick’s Day Parade. "It provides the downtown businesses an additional weekend to access the holiday by having the parade tomorrow."
Bushnell Park is still covered in snow, but Saturday’s forecast looked good for a parade.
"We’re hearing 45 degrees and sun, and you can’t do much better than that in March so we’re very grateful for that," Moriarty told NBC Connecticut.
The parade in Hartford is a decades-old tradition celebrating Irish culture, but new this year will be a performance from entertainers in colorful costumes.
"We’re actually bringing in a Mummers group out of Philadelphia, out of that mummers tradition with their fantastic outfits and their signature strut," Moriarty said.
Hartford Police wanted the hundreds of parade-goers to celebrate responsibly.
"I’ll take this opportunity to remind everybody that public alcohol consumption is unlawful in the city of Hartford," Lt. Paul Cicero said.
Police also encouraged parade-goers who plan to drink to order an Uber or call a cab.
On Sunday, it will be New Haven’s turn to host what organizers say is the largest single-day spectator event in the state.
With the Trinity Bar on Orange Street still closed after the September 2017 fire, "currently we are the only true Irish pub in New Haven," said Conor O’Keefe, the general manager at Christy’s.
"This is actually my 10th parade day working in New Haven, this year I get to actually instead of bartending I get to lead my team," he said.
While the Sunday morning forecast has snow and rain, O’Keefe said he is not concerned about that impacting turnout.
"That’s the Irish mentality we’re going to do it," he said, "doesn’t matter what the weather is, the parade will always go on."
Moriarty said it is significant to have Saturday’s parade in Hartford where many Irish Americans’ ancestors got their start.
"It’s an opportunity for us to demonstrate our pride in our heritage, to recognize the contributions Irish and Irish Americans have made here in Connecticut and across the country," he said.
The Hartford Parade will stepped off at 11 a.m. at the State Capitol and ended at the Memorial Arch. Roads closed for the parade reopened at 3:30 p.m.
New Haven’s parade starts Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Chapel Street and Sherman Avenue and it ends on Grove Street at Orange Street.