People who attended Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Milford agreed it may have been the most well attended event in years.
And that’s saying quite a bit for a parade that police have estimated attracts 20,000 spectators.
Peter Ortoleva, who portrays St. Patrick in the parade each year, said he noticed a marked increase along the main run of the parade in front of the downtown shops.
“People were 20 people deep at River Street,” Ortoleva said. “They were out in the streets because there wasn’t anyplace left to stand.”
The parade was a 1.5 hour tribute to the Irish culture and the city of Milford. There were local businesses marching with banners and floats; civic groups, children dressed in green and riding in red wagons; bands, bagpipes and more.
Annette Bacchiocchi, who marched with The Milford Bank, said she thinks this year’s parade was attended by more people than in the past.
The crowds stretched well past the viewing stand, which has traditionally marked the end of the parade route
She and other Milford Bank representatives said they believe the relatively warm weather Saturday helped bring more people to the popular city event.
Saturday’s temperatures were in the mid-50s, and after a long, cold and snowy winter, viewers could be heard saying they were happy to be outside.
A woman marching with Bridgeport’s Park City Pride who would only give her name as Linda said her group marches in Milford every year, and this was by far the biggest turnout she’s seen.
“Oh my God,” she said. “There wasn’t even space to stand; it was five to 10 people deep everywhere. Everybody was laughing and having a good time.”
Jennifer Hussey, who marched as the Irish Heritage Society’s Irish Woman of the Year, said it was no doubt the weather that created such a large and happy crowd.
“It’s a gorgeous day, and we haven’t had a good one in a while,” Hussey said.
The annual parade cost about $20,000 to run this year, with some costs, like insurance, going up.
As he walked down the green after the parade was over, someone asked parade organizer Marty Hardiman if he raised enough money to cover the event this year.
Hardiman, smiling at the huge crowd that was just starting to disperse, waved a hand good-naturedly and said, “Uh, not sure. I haven’t counted it yet.”