By Kelly Glista, Hartford Courant
HARTFORD — Thousands of people gathered downtown Saturday morning for the 43rd annual Greater Hartford St. Patrick’s Day Parade, filling the streets with music, laughter and all things green.
After a week in which residents may have feared winter would never relinquish its hold on Connecticut, the sunshine and mild temperatures that arrived as the parade kicked off were welcome signs of spring for many parade-goers.
“I thought it was going to rain, but I was still going to show up,” said Hartford resident Gina Molina. “This is a great day for a parade.”
City police estimated that parade attendance was near 40,000.
“I think we were all ready for a good day, y’know?” Molina said. “Sun and fun and friends.”
Parade-goers displayed their St. Patrick’s Day pride with everything from green scarves and hats to green facial hair, real and fake.
City and state officials joined in on the festive mood. Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra waved at parade-goers and even borrowed one person’s large shamrock-covered hat for a moment near the start of the parade route.
East Hartford resident Harry Connelly said the parade is always “a blast.”
“This year seems really good,” he said, adjusting his bright green hat. “Hartford’s ready to party today.”
The parade featured local police and fire departments, bands, volunteer organizations and other groups.
Beverly Concannon, a longtime volunteer and supporter of the Irish American Home Society and its efforts, was named parade grand marshal, and Dr. Pauline Olsen of Malta House fame was chosen as person of the year.
“Why wouldn’t you come to the parade?” Connelly said. “Just look at this place.”
The fun will continue Sunday with the O’Hartford 5K race. The Wee Mile kids’ race will take place on Trumbull and Jewell Streets starting at 12:30 p.m. and the 5K starts at 1 p.m.