Greater New Haven St. Patrick's Day Parade canceled for second year

Photo of Ed Stannard

NEW HAVEN — The Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the largest one-day event in the state, will not step off for a second year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the parade committee has announced.

But as the 2021 button, designed by committee member Carolyn Shea, says, “Love, Loyalty, Friendship Will Never Be Canceled.” Shea, who lives in Middlefield, was the 2012 parade queen.

“The health and safety of our participants and spectators is of paramount importance to the Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee,” reads the notice on the committee’s website. The next parade is scheduled for March 13, 2022.

Last year’s parade officially was postponed, not canceled, in the hopes that it could be held later in the year, said committee Chairwoman Joanne Conlan. This year, while there are no plans to reschedule the 2021 parade, “We’re using the same word, ‘postponed,’ as opposed to ‘canceled,’” Conlan said. “‘Postponed,’ I think, sounds a little more positive,” focusing on “what we can do, not what we can’t do.”

Referring to the pandemic nearing its second year, Mayor Justin Elicker said, “Canceling the parade last year was one of the early moments where we realized how big this really was.” The talk then was about looking forward to 2021, he said. “None of us imagined that we’d be at this point again, but we’ve got to keep people safe.” Elicker said he appreciates the organizing committee’s willingness to make the difficult choice to cancel the 2021 event.

The parade is the highlight of the year, but the committee’s work, both in raising money and in contributing to the community, goes on all year, Conlan said. Sales of the button is one of the oldest fundraisers, and Conlan said this year’s edition is sure to be a “collector’s item,” with fewer being created. A contest among the committee members was held to design it, she said. “It’s limited edition because we can’t bring them to our area establishments like we always do.”

The other long-running event is the corned beef dinner, which will be held as a drive-up event March 7 at the Knights of St. Patrick, 1533 State St.

“If things stay the way they are, we’re going to have that fundraiser,” Conlan said. “We’ll pack it up and it’ll go out the door.”

The annual golf tournament in June still is on the calendar, Conlan said. And the committee held its food and diaper drive in October, collecting food, diapers, baby wipes and formula for LifeHaven and the Connecticut Food Bank, assisted by the New Haven and West Haven-Allingtown fire departments.

“We want to continue that community outreach to show that we’re still here,” Conlan said. “We want to support the community that supported us.”

“The parade is a joyous occasion. It’s a time to come together and celebrate life,” Conlan said. “It’s disappointing, no doubt, but we’re not dwelling on that. We’re dwelling on what can we do.”

The parade committee, known formally as the Associated Irish Societies, is made up of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Knights of St. Patrick, the New Haven Gaelic Football & Hurling Club/Irish American Community Center and the West Haven Irish American Club. This year’s parade was scheduled for March 15.

The first parade in New Haven, the sixth-oldest in America, was held March 17, 1842, according to the committee’s website. There were just two parades during the Civil War and large gaps after 1885, but since 1956 the parade has been held every year.

edward.stannard@hearstmediact.com; 203-680-9382