Greenwich kicks off celebration of St. Patrick’s Day ahead of Sunday’s parade

GREENWICH — In a short ceremony Thursday morning, the Greenwich Hibernian Association honored those with Irish ancestry and the upcoming parade grand marshal while they raised an Irish flag above Town Hall to kick off the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in town.

GHA founding member John Halpin and GHA President Hayden O’Shea joined former Selectman John Toner, who will serve as grand marshal in Sunday’s parade, in the St. Patrick’s Day flag-raising at Town Hall in Greenwich.

The small crowd gathered under cloudy skies enjoyed the music from Jim Bonney, who played the bagpipes at the event.

St. Patrick is the foremost patron saint of Ireland, and March 17 marks the date of his death. For decades, Irish Americans have celebrated their heritage on this day.

The town will continue its celebration of St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday, when the annual parade returns after a two-year interruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sponsored by the GHA, the event Sunday will be its 46th annual parade.

It will be led by Toner, stepping off from Town Hall at 2 p.m., when Greenwich Police Officer Kevin Ingraham blows the ceremonial starting whistle. The route will move up Field Point Road, turn on West Putnam Avenue and then march straight down Greenwich Avenue to the Island Beach parking lot.

Toner was born in Greenwich, the son of Bartley and Rose Toner, both immigrants from Ireland, he from County Donegal, she from County Tyrone.

Ingraham’s Irish ancestors came from Counties Tyrone and Cork. His family has lived in Greenwich for a century, with many members serving the town as firefighters and police officers.

A special guest of honor will be William Maloney, who is the grand marshal for the parade in Norwalk, rescheduled to Saturday. His family has three generations of ties to Greenwich, after immigrating from Counties Carlow, Cork and Killarney.

Maloney, who was born and raised in town, always wanted to be a police officer. He started his career in the Greenwich Police Department for two years before he joined Norwalk Police Department, retiring at the beginning of March after a 41-year police career.

This year’s parades promises to be one of the largest in recent years, with 10 bands: Greenwich Pipe Band, Fairfield Gaelic Pipe Band, Fairfield County Police Pipes and Drums, Westchester Firefighters Pipes and Drums, Iona College Pipe Band, Essex County Emerald Society Pipe Band, Port Chester High School Marching Band, Tappan Zee Bridgemen, Nash Drum Corp., and Wholly Brass Band.

In addition, there will be at least 45 groups of local schools, scouts, fire and police departments and civic organizations marching along with Irish Step Dancers from three local schools.

A number of antique and vintage vehicles will be in the parade, including an antique van sponsored by Sam Bridge Nursery and a 1935 American LaFrance Metropolitan 400 Senior firetruck from the Cos Cob Volunteer Fire Department.

The always popular Pyramid1 Shriners Motor Patrol will perform in their miniature cars.

For more information on the parade, visit