The luck of the Irish was not with the city of New Haven this weekend, whose annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade took place on Sunday. Yet not even one of the most devastating storms in Connecticut’s recent history could keep parade-goers from taking to the streets to show their Irish pride.

The greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade was scheduled to go on, rain or shine, according to the parade’s Web site.

First started in 1842, the parade is the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade between New York and Boston, and is the sixth-oldest parade in the country.

The parade is also recognized as a “Local Legacy” by the Library of Congress, according to Walter Nester, parade chairman for the 2010 event.

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“The parade attracts on average 250,000 to 300,000 spectators annually to the streets of New Haven making it the largest single day event in the state,” said Nester.

“… More than 3,000 marchers come from as far away as Ireland to participate,” he said. “The parade itself represents the culmination of a year long, totally volunteer effort.”

The parade, which was preceded by a Mass at St. Mary’s Church on Hillhouse Avenue, followed its traditional route, starting on the corner of Chapel Street and Sherman Avenue, and ending on Orange Street. However, festivities were not limited to the streets: Irish establishments such as Sullivan’s Playwright, Lansdowne, Anna Lifffey’s and Anchor Bar were all packed throughout the parade.

“Anna Liffey’s was a blast,” said Connecticut resident Daniel Berg-Johnsen, 22, who dressed head to toe in green for the occasion. “I was Irish jig dancing while a guy was playing the bagpipes and another playing the snare with a circle of like, 30 people around me!”

Chapel Street also hosts a number of other bars, who benefitted from the thousands of spectators in search of a good Irish beer.

“The drink prices and covers were outrageous,” said Berg-Johnsen. “But the weather was awful … most people just wanted to stay off the streets.”

As the saying goes, when Irish eyes are smiling, they’re probably up to no good. Along with its rich history and legacy, the New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade has also been traditionally known as the only day where people can bring their own alcoholic beverages and drink publicly in New Haven.

In recent years, spectators have taken advantage of police “looking the other way” to people drinking illegally from open containers in the streets, according to an article on This year, the police presence was strong, with an additional 50 officers ready to ticket anyone caught publicly drinking.

“It’s getting to the point where it has gotten out of control,” said New Haven Assistant Police Chief Ken Gillespie in the article. “It’s not people having a beer, it’s people coming out staggering drunk and causing problems.”

However, some parade-goers feel that drinking at the St. Patrick’s Day should be expected and even tolerated.

“It’s all part of the experience,” said Connecticut resident Briana Ready, 21. “I attend the parade every year, and this year I can finally drink … legally. You can bet I’m going to celebrate with more than a few beers. I didn’t brave this weather for nothing,” she said.

“Unfortunately drinking is associated with the parade. However, we do not allow drinking in the parade by marchers … The decision to enforce the open container law is a Police Department initiative this year which we, the parade organizers totally endorse,” said Nester.

A press release on the New Haven Police Department’s website quotes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, whose statistics “show that over the past five years, 851 people lost their lives in motor vehicles crashes during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. Out of that number, 327 were killed in crashes that involved a drunk driver or motorcycle rider (operator) with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.”

The New Haven Police Department has not yet released statistics on the number of arrests made at this year’s parade.

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