Big turnout for annual Milford St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday

The snow almost canceled the Milford St. Patrick’s Day Parade. But it didn’t. Instead, it brought a new visitor to the annual event: An Irish snowman created by the Stofko family.

The Stofko family gathered in front of the Milford Bank Saturday to watch one of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the area.

With extra hats and Irish scarves, plus a good amount of snow left over from the day before, they decided to create one more parade spectator to join their group. The snowman was decked out in green and held a green bag.

Friday’s heavy snow had parade organizers Linda and Marty Hardiman fielding phone calls as they talked to city officials about whether to go forward with the parade.

Linda Hardiman said she answered 78 phone calls Friday from people wanting to know if the parade was still on.

With their eyes on the snow, the Hardimans, mayor and public works officials set a deadline Friday. If the snow didn’t stop by 1 p.m., they’d postpone the parade until the next weekend.

But the snow kept falling.

“We kept pushing the deadline,” Marty Hardiman said.

Linda said she was panicking a bit, but Marty wasn’t. After all, it’s inconvenient to postpone a parade that has more than 60 units scheduled to march. Even though a rain date had been pre-set, delaying the event usually means some marchers won’t be able to make it.

At about 2 p.m. Friday, with the snow tapering off, they decided the parade would take place as scheduled.

In all these years, the Milford St. Patrick’s Day Parade has only been postponed twice, Marty Hardiman said. It’s never been canceled.

The parade kicked off at 1 p.m. and didn’t wrap up until after 2 p.m.

The public works department had the roads cleared, having worked until 11 p.m. Friday and then returning Saturday morning, so there was plenty of room for a long contingent of floats, bagpipers, candy-throwing Scout troops and more to march through the downtown streets.

Turnout, usually estimated at 20,000 people, may have been a little lighter than usual, some regular parade-goers said. But the streets were filled with people in the thousands, they estimated.