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The Parading of the Green

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place on March 17, 1762, when Irish soldiers in the English army marched together in New York City. Wearing green as a sign of Irish pride had been banned in Ireland. The marchers celebrated their freedom to wear green, speak Irish, sing Irish songs and play the pipes to Irish tunes. Hartford’s 42nd annual parade on March 9 is organized by the Central Connecticut Celtic Cultural Committee. Here are some of the key committee members who present Hartford’s 40 shades of green.

Liz Saunders


Saunders recruits volunteers for 17 positions and oversees all committees and activities. She is involved in everything from parade day to publicity, scholarships and button sales. Irish culture, emphasizing hard work, honesty and faith, was ingrained in her at an early age. “Everyone’s Irish on the day of the parade,” she says. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re white, black or Hispanic. Parade day is when we all come together.”

Jay Mullarkey


Mullarkey is a Hartford native who cherishes his history with the St. Patrick’s Day parade. He holds a picture of his grandfather as grand marshal in 1977. The parade contingent from Hartford is so large that when it reaches the finish, some towns haven’t even started marching. “Last year there were over 50,000 people on the streets of Hartford for the parade. Mayor Segarra went back and forth thanking people for coming to the city. It brings out the pride of being in Hartford.”

Eileen K. Moore


With 7,000 marchers, Hartford’s St. Patrick’s Day parade exceeds the population of many Connecticut towns. Moore’s magnum opus is the parade lineup, where everyone is accounted for and dignitaries are carefully interspersed with drum corps and fire trucks. “The parade is comprised of the people who started this country,” she says proudly. “It’s laborers and little children, schools and churches. Many of the Irish who came here were union founders, police and fire fighters.”

Kristen Saunders


Saunders was just 9 months old when she attended her first St. Patrick’s Day parade with her mother, General Chair Liz Saunders. Her volunteer efforts were recognized in 2009 with an award from the Celtic Sons and Daughters Scholarship Program run by the Central Connecticut Celtic Cultural Committee. “We’re getting the word out there about the parade,” she says. “That’s a good feeling.”

Jim Moriarty


When he marches, Moriarty wears a kilt made from the Irish National Tartan. He has served as general chair, parade chair and is currently cochair, with his wife, of the Rocky Hill parade committee. He was grand marshal in 2009, 10 years after his mother held the title. His multiple roles have made the parade an adventure. “There have been years when we’ve marched twice— once in front with the past grand marshals and once toward the back with our town.”