St. Patrick’s Day starts early in Connecticut, with the annual holy day mass at – where else – St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Norwich on March 8 kicking off nearly two weeks of parades, road races, parties, balls, pub crawls and other celebrations. New Haven and Hartford host the oldest and biggest parades, which this year are held the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day. In several towns, road races are held where walkers and runners can help raise money for charities, win awards and have fun while marking the day that honors Ireland’s patron saint. Then, of course, there is the drinking – and the annual pub crawl in Hartford is the biggest and most popular among the green-beer crowd.
St. Patrick’s Day Mass And Parade
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
213 Broadway
Norwich, CT 06360
(860) 867-7866
www.norwichchamber.com

Date: March 8, 2015

On what other Sunday do worshippers celebrate a mass to the tunes of kilted bagpipers? St. Patrick’s Day is more than just about parades and parties and corned beef and cabbage; it is a holy day and a saint’s day. The Catholic cathedral in Norwich, which is named in his honor, is just one of many churches where masses will be held to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint in early March. At St. Patrick’s Cathedral, however, the mass is more than just a solemn Sunday service – it is also an event, a celebration, complete with a procession of pipers piping in the governor (fittingly, of Irish heritage) and other state officials and dignitaries, including leaders of the Ancient Order of Hiberians. After mass, many of those same pipers and worshippers will step off for Norwich’s own St. Patrick’s Day parade, which begins at 1 p.m.

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44th Annual Greater Hartford St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Central Connecticut Celtic Cultural Committee
P.O. Box 84
Rocky Hill, CT 06067
www.irishamericanparade.com

Date: March 14, 2015

New Haven may boast it is the host to the oldest and biggest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the Nutmeg State, but for the last 43 years, the Central Connecticut Celtic Cultural Committee has sought to give the Elm City a run for its money. This year marks its 44th attempt to do New Haven one better – and they are getting not only a day’s head start but also are launching their parade from a truly iconic spot, in the very shadows of the golden-domed State Capitol. The parade not only starts big, it also ends big – as its finish line is the grand Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, which honors the state’s veterans, especially those (many of them Irish) who fought in the Civil War. From the State Capitol, the route follows Capitol Avenue, then goes along Main, Asylum and Ford Streets before coming to its conclusion at the Arch. Groups from Hartford and seven surrounding towns usually take part, and this year an eighth town – New Britain – is adding its marchers to the parade for the first time. The parade is held rain or shine.

St. Patrick’s Day Road Race And Festival
229 Church Street
Naugatuck, CT 06770
www.naugatuckroadrace.org

Date: March 14, 2015

Ion Bank in Naugatuck hosts an annual St. Patrick’s Day Road Race and Festival to raise money for the city’s educational charities, The Naugatuck Education Foundation and Naugatuck Students. There is both a 5K and a 10K run, a Kid’s Run and a 5K Fun Walk, and they all start at 10 a.m. on Old Firehouse Road. The course is mostly flat and easy, and winds through scenic Naugatuck. There are T-shirts for all who pre-register and awards for the top three finishers in a dozen divisions ranging from the 10 and under 10 to the the 70 and over crowd. A “gala” with refreshments follows, and there is a Kid Zone for children under 12 to have fun before, during and after the race.

Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade
New Haven, CT 06501
www.stpatricksdayparade.org

Date: March 15, 2015

Hartford may be the official capitol of Connecticut, but New Haven prides itself as being the Irish capitol of the state – especially on St. Patty’s Day. The annual Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade is not only the largest of the parades held in Connecticut in honor of Ireland’s patron saint, it is also, as the organizers proudly proclaim “the largest single-day spectator event in the state of Connecticut.” The Associated Irish Societies who put on the parade continue a tradition that began in 1842, and each year the parade gets a little bigger, as does the army of vendors who serve food and drink and souvenirs to the crowds that line its route. The parade starts at the intersection of Chapel Street and Sherman Avenue and steps off promptly at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 15. The marchers follow Chapel toward New Haven Green, then turn onto Church Street, and then Grove Street, and finish up on Orange Street. The parade is so big that it takes the bands, dancers, floats and celebrities about three hours to complete their 1.8-mile journey.

Official St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl
Black Bear Saloon
187 Allyn Street
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 524-8888
www.hartford.eventful.com

Date: March 17, 2015

St. Patrick’s Day is often about green beer and Irish whiskey, and Hartford’s biggest bars host not just one but three days of pub crawls to mark the occasion. The biggest of the three days, of course, is St. Patrick’s Day itself, March 17, and the crawl starts that day at 5 p.m. at the Black Bear Saloon on Allyn Street. Each pub and bar on the suggested route offers special Irish-themed drinks, food items and entertainment. Participants get a pass, a map and information to help them choose their own path, as the route is rather more of collection of suggested stops rather than a point-to-point guide.

Related: Ask A Connecticut Chef: Top Corned Beef And Cabbage Recipes

Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.

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