Hartford’s St. Patrick’s Day parade powers through funding troubles

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HARTFORD -- Hartford’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the biggest events in the capital city, but this year, city budget cuts meant the parade came dangerously close to not happening.

The parade is put on by the Central Connecticut Celtic Cultural Committee, the 5-Cs, and typically brings in roughly 50,000 people to the capital city.

“This particular parade, the St. Patrick’s Day parade, I think you can look at as one of our largest economically impactful parades that we have here in the capital city,” said Julio Concepcion, majority leader in the Hartford City Council.

That major economic boost goes mainly to the local bars and restaurants.

“Well, since we’ve been here it’s been by far the busiest day of the year, always has been,” Johnny Vaughan, owner of Vaughan’s Public House on Pratt Street, said about the boost to business.

He said that he and other local businesses also feared that boost would be lost if the parade wasn’t able to go on.

“It’s obviously not our greatest fiscal year in the fiscal climate here in the city of Hartford. In regards to special events, we actually cut special events about 90 percent this year from about a million dollars last year to $100,000 this year,” Concepcion said.

That remaining $100,000 was then split up between the few events that still go on in the city.

“That included the St. Patrick’s Day parade, the Puerto Rican Day parade, the African-American Day parade, and the West Indian Day parade, along with the Jazz Fest here in the city,” Concepcion said.

The Hartford St. Patrick’s Day Parade typically costs about $60,000. In past years, the parade received $50,000 from the city. This year, that was cut in half. The 5-Cs ended up getting $25,000 to pay for the parade expenses, which are mostly made up of police and public safety costs.

Ultimately, the parade committee was left with a $35,000 gap, a price parade organizers said was unreachable on their own.

“It’s a much larger price tag than we have looked at in our 45 year history,” Eileen Moore, the Chair of the 5-Cs said.

She explained that with the help of city leaders, they called on the help of local business owners.

“I think we all just kind of rallied around for a good cause. It was time for us to step up and make sure that the parade was not going to be on the guillotine this year,” Vaughan said.

He explained that he and other bar owners decided on different dollar amounts to contribute, based on their location.

Businesses on or near the parade route are paying the most, businesses a bit further off the route, who get some of the parade overflow, agreed on a slightly smaller amount, and businesses farthest off the parade route will pay the least.

In total, about 20-25 business are chipping in to cover the extra tens of thousands of dollars needed.  Along with the Irish pubs, Vaughan’s and McKinnon’s, about 10 others make up that “highest paying” list including Pig’s Eye Pub, The Russian Lady, and the Tavern Downtown, according to Vaughan.

“We were just happy to contribute. It certainly wasn’t going to break the bank, but it was almost a case of more hands make light work,” Vaughan said.

They also reached out to the two major liquor distributors in the region, and the companies who run the city’s parking lots, arguing they too benefit from the economic boost of the parade.

Hartford Distributors, Inc. agreed to put in $2,500, ROGO Distributors will be giving $2,000, and Laz Parking have promised $5,000 to parade organizers.

Hartford’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will kick off on March 11 at 11 a.m. There will be a full, live broadcast of the parade, starting at 11:30 a.m. on FOX61.