Memories, ‘Irish spirit’ warm chilly St. Patrick’s Day parade
MILFORD >> For a week, pieces of the memorial float for Brian Masik were spread between family members’ kitchens and garages, and in Rainbow Gardens Restaurant & Bar.
“He loved St. Patrick’s Day,” said Heather Profetto, co-owner of the downtown restaurant and Masik’s sister-in-law. “It was a way for us to show our love for him.”
Masik, 45, died this year after suffering a heart attack, Profetto said. He used to work in the restaurant, and his wife still does, she said.
When preparing to make the float for the parade, which passes the restaurant, Profetto said family members and customers chipped in to honor Masik.
Profetto said the family plans to use to the float, which she said was the result of “100 man hours of pure love,” as a public health campaign piece focusing on cardiovascular health.
The float had a photo of Masik, a dragon, large castle towed on a trailer, and of course, a rainbow. A coat of arms and the phrase “Only the good die young,” was painted on cardboard at the rear of the trailer.
And the float almost didn’t ride this year, as the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade was postponed from March 11 to Saturday by cold weather.
But while the 27th annual parade actually stepped off one week behind schedule, with temperatures still hovering around freezing and a threat of snow on the way, people still came walking to downtown for the festivities the morning after St. Patrick’s Day.
“There’s an Irish spirit in the air,” said Mayor Benjamin G. Blake, sporting a bright green sweater and green Mardi Gras beads as music blared around him.
Colleen Hugo, 17, waving her hands with her fingernails painted bright green, said she was excited to be chosen as this year’s Miss Emerald Isle for the parade. Hugo, a junior in high school, said she remembers watching the parade as a child and always wondering how they chose the lucky girl for the honor.
“I was really excited to represent the Irish community today,” she said.
Local businesses were thrilled the parade went off Saturday, as well, according to parade Chairman Marty Hardiman, who said he called most of them Saturday morning. The show had to go on, Hardiman said.
“I know it’s still chilly,” he said, adding that some groups with younger marchers pulled out of the parade because of the cold. “It was now or never.”
Parade Committee member Bonnie Gilbert said the last week of work was difficult, as the committee continued to keep track of who still wanted to participate, even adding some new groups to the line-up.
“You know how many people attend this parade?” she said, when asked if cancellation had been considered. “People love it. We couldn’t ‘dis’ Milford like that.”