St. Patrick’s Day Parade marches on in Bridgeport
BRIDGEPORT — For Sheila Sargent, Bridgeport’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a reminder of how great the city can be. Though she now lives in Fairfield, Sargent was a Bridgeport resident for much of her life, and her father, Martin Reidy, was the parade’s first-ever grand marshal in 1983.
Sargent has remained involved with the parade over the years, and her daughter, Colleen Sargent Murphy, was on the committee for this year’s parade, which takes place noon Friday in downtown Bridgeport. Sargent said the parade remains an important tradition in the city.
“I remember growing up in Bridgeport and how much I loved it,” Sargent said “The parade shows that people who grew up here are willing to show up and demonstrate what Bridgeport can be.”
Sargent was one of those who gathered Monday for a press conference to announce the festivities for the day of the parade, and for the hanging of a 50-foot banner announcing the parade over McLevy Green. The parade kicks off at noon at at Webster Bank Arena, 600 Main St., and travel down Broad Street to Fairfield Avenue to Main Street. The parade will end by the Barnum Museum, 820 Main St.
It’s the 37th year of the parade, started by Catherine Brannelly, who began organizing the event in 1982. Then city clerk, Brannelly — a second generation Irish American — was encouraged by the then-Mayor Leonard Paoletta to organize the parade. She recruited family and friends to help her and snagged Reidy, a native of Ireland and a longtime member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Gaelic American Club.
Among those helping pull together that inaugural parade. was Catherine Brannelly’s brother, John Brannelly. At the time, John worked in his sister’s law office, so he helped hang posters and joined his sister at committee meeting. This year, John Brannelly has come full circle and is himself chairperson of the parade.
He echoed Sheila Sargent’s feeling that the St. Patrick’s Parade is a celebration of Bridgeport, and said part of the reason the parade is typically held on a weekday is that “we want people who work downtown to be able to enjoy the parade.”
This year’s parade grand marshal is Peter F. Carroll, who is the third Carroll brother to serve as the grand marshal. The current Carroll is the business manager of Local 488 I.B.E.W. and president of the Fairfield County Building Trades. He has been a resident of Stratford for 40 years, but was born and raised in Bridgeport and reiterated the mantra that the parade is a valuable local tradition.
“Everyone in Bridgeport is involved in this,” Carroll said. “We include everyone in the city.”
For more information about the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, visit www.stpatricksdaybridgeport.com.