Wednesday, March 1, 2017

But I Was Mad for Jigs and Reels

You know events have become annual traditions when you’re surprised that they’d almost snuck up on you. I said almost. It wasn’t that long ago a small group of volunteers hoped their first Norwich Saint Patrick’s Day Parade would be a success. That was in 2014; and now, it’s a tradition.   

Weather permitting, the annual Norwich Saint Patrick's Day Parade steps off at one this Sunday afternoon from Ferry Street, parades through downtown before returning to Ferry Street.  We had remarkable weather last year (much like most of last week) and I see no reason we shouldn’t hope for an encore.

Speaking of encores, allow me to reprise some words passing for thoughts I offered for previous Norwich Saint Patrick’s Day Parades while also cheering the new additions and enhancements to this year’s parade.

“If you like marching, you’ll love running.” I suspect that’s the premise behind the Rose City Shenanigans 5K whose first ever start is Sunday at noon from Courthouse Square, along the parade route, past the Cathedral and concluding at the Street Festival (with spectators, Irish fare, and food all in abundant supply). You can still register through the start of the race Sunday and there will be prizes for the largest team, the best costume, and best-themed team.

The parade grows a little larger and gets a little better every year with more marchers, more vendors and more spectators, doing better each time around in terms of cosa a chur ar an tsráid (Gaelic for ‘putting feet on the street’) in Chelsea.

If you’ve yet to attend, think of the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade as another reason to stop and visit somewhere too many of us too often simply drive through on our way to someplace else, usually while complaining that ‘there’s never anything to do in Norwich.’ Which, I would argue is as true as you want it to be, except when it’s not, like this Sunday.

Last year, I stood near someone costumed as “Paddy O’ Furniture,” a fine figure of a man and we were in the midst of a gaggle of people I met who did not live in Norwich but heard about the parade and the family-oriented crafts festival, as well as the authentic food and beverages (both adult and unadulterated) and decided to try it on for size and were very pleased they had come.       

As I said, if you want to march, you’ll be in good company. In previous years, the parade has featured all/some/part of our Norwich City Council and the Mayor, members of the Norwich Police Department and various area fire departments, marching bands, local service organizations and basically anyone who felt like stepping out and stepping off.

When Irish Eyes are Smiling, let’s hope they brighten and warm up Sunday afternoon enough to allow both the wearing of the green and the marching of the feet. And though it’s technically early, it’s right on time for Sunday: Beannachtam na Feile Padraig "Happy St. Patrick's Day!"
-bill kenny 

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