Getting ready to go green: Mystic Irish Parade returns on Sunday

Getting ready to go green: Mystic Irish Parade returns on Sunday


MYSTIC — The 14th annual Mystic Irish Parade will kick off at the Mystic Seaport promptly at 1 p.m. on Sunday then journey through downtown until its final destination at the Mystic Arts Center.

Drawing a crowd of close to 30,000 and with roughly 2,000 marchers, the parade is Mystic’s largest single-day event, according to Neil Ryan, the vice president of the parade foundation.

Ryan said all the traditional favorites will be participate again this year, including nearly a dozen bagpipe bands, children’s groups, floats developed by local businesses, high school bands, fife-and-drum units, dancing groups and Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops.

This year’s Grand Marshal, Stonington Police Chief Darren Stewart, accepted the honor under one condition, said Ryan.

“I’m accepting in recognition of the men and women of the Stonington Police Department and police officers throughout Connecticut who put themselves in harm’s way,” said Chief Stewart in a statement from the parade foundation. “It’s all about them.”

“Our police officers do good for the community every day,” said Ryan. “Grand Marshals are people who do good for the community, and we thought it only fitting that Chief Stewart be our Marshal this year.”

Chief Stewart has strong ties to the Mystic Irish Parade. He is a lifelong resident of Stonington and has participated in the event since it began 14 years ago. As police chief, he has had the privilege of riding in the parade, and says the most exciting part for the police, who lead the parade, is when they round the corners and thousands of onlookers begin to cheer.

“When you turn onto East Main Street by the monument, and make other turns and the crowd cheers, it’s a lot of fun,” he said.

Stewart has been chief for nine years and a member of the Stonington police force for 33 years. He and his wife, Beth, executive director of the Stonington Community Center, are both active in the community, Ryan said.

In addition to the parade, Ryan said there are a number of other Irish-themed festivities that acknowledge St. Patrick’s Day, like Saturday’s annual Mystic Irish 5K, which takes place in downtown Mystic.

The road race, organized along with the Town of Groton Parks & Recreation Department, begins on Pearl Street at 10 a.m. and will feature committee members on hand to recognize dignitaries and supporters.

On Sunday, March 26, the annual “Awards Party & Raffle Drawing” is scheduled to take place at the Harp & Hound on Pearl Street at 1 p.m. and will feature the drawing of the trip to Ireland winner.

The Mystic Irish Parade Foundation is 100 percent volunteer driven, supported by team members dedicated to promoting Irish heritage and organizing a spectacular parade for the community, Ryan said. The foundations is a registered nonprofit organization and all donations are tax deductible and directly help fund local charities, as well as the annual parade. Excess funds raised are donated to local nonprofit organizations.

For more information visit Parade participants will muster from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. at the seaport.

— Nancy Burns-Fusaro

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