Highlighting a lifetime of dedication in the New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade

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NEW HAVEN -- For Colleen Hines, becoming Grand Marshal of the 2016 Saint Patrick's Day Parade in New Haven is the highlight of a lifetime of dedication.

"I'm proud to say I have a perfect attendance of attending the parade. So, my first parade was March 1978 and I've attended every year since," said Hines.

As a member of the parade committee since 2000, she has poured over history books at the Ethnic Heritage Center, home of the Connecticut Irish-American Historical Society, which houses an archive of thousands of books.

Vice President Vincent McMahon says the group is also digitizing many books, making them available online to researchers and academics.

Author Neil Hogan wrote a book about the parade's history, included in the archive. He loves to write about his roots.

"I was the little toddler who would hear the music and stories and somehow that got burned deep in there and keeps coming and coming," said Hogan.

The Ethnic Heritage Center is  developing a trail in the city to highlight significant site. It includes Saint Mary's Church in New Haven, the oldest Catholic church in the state.

Hines believes all ethnicity are celebrated at the parade along with community organizations. As she looks back at previous parades and ahead to this year's, she is honored to be part of the history that means so much.

"I'm going to be in the books that are in this building for years to come with my family.  It's an overwhelming thing and I get emotional just thinking about what that day is going to bring," Hines said.

You can watch both the Hartford and New Haven St. Patrick's Day parades live on-air and online with coverage from FOX 61. Learn more here.