Eighteen months of work will conclude Sunday in just a few short hours. Mystic hosts the 8th Annual from 1 to 3 p.m., an event sure draw to thousands of people to the small village to celebrate Irish heritage.
Since the event began, the parade has grown ten fold in popularity.
“It’s the largest single day event in Mystic,” Neil Ryan of the Mystic Irish Parade Foundation said. “It’s just a great family event.”
Ryan said this year there are more floats and more businesses than ever before involved in the parade.
“We actually had to turn away about 30-40 groups,” said Ryan, who noted that while in prior years there have been waiting listing for space, this year’s was by far the biggest.
Parade participants have a chance to win a number of honors such as Best Irish Theme Float, Best Antique Vehicle and Best Fire Department among others.
The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, a popular ensemble out of the UK will headline the parade. Ryan describes them as a “rock band with bagpipes thrown in.”
And lifetime Mystic resident Elizabeth Martinelli will be the grand marshal of the parade. Board members of the Mystic Irish Parade Foundation meet each year to pick a grand marshal based on community recommendations and nominations. Ryan said the board looks for community members that have positively impacted the community.
The parade kicks off at 1 p.m. at the and is followed by a prize giving and volunteer appreciation party at 4 p.m. at the .
The parade travels along Greenmanville Road., to Willow Street, Broadway and East and West Main Streets before ending at Water Street.
One of the notable difference this year is that parade viewers will not be able to watch from the drawbridge due to construction. But while the bridge construction required some additional planning, Ryan said the company handling the construction was a dream to work with making it very easy to work around.
Lawrence & Memorial Hospital is sponsoring the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Ryan credits a number of corporations for the sponsorship as well local residents and small businesses for continuing to make the parade possible.
The total budget for the parade, which includes the Irish dinner, security, payment for the bands, donations to charities such as the Salvation Army, as well as donations so bands have a place to stay, runs between $50,000 and $70,000 each year. The money for the parade comes from a raffle for a trip to Ireland, selling tickets to the Irish Dinner, corporate sponsorship and donations.
Parking parade day can be a challenge and the Groton Town and will issue a temporary no parking order and close roads in downtown Mystic on parade day. Several roads throughout Mystic will be off-limits to parking from 4:00 a.m. to 4 p.m., while road closures along the parade route will occur at 12:30 p.m. and remain in effect until about 30 minutes after the parade. A full list of roads affected by the closures and temporary parking ban is available here.
“My advice come early and make a day of it,” Ryan offered.
But while parade goers are preparing for the Sunday event, the Mystic Irish Parade Foundation is already preparing for the 9th annual parade. Ryan said planning for each parade begins about 18 months before and starts in force the day after the current year’s parade.
Their preparation is just part of making the parade a yearly tradition for residents.
For additional information on the parade route, the Mystic Irish Parade Foundation and the over 100 marching units and 20 bands visit the Mystic Irish Parade Foundation website. And check back with Patch for a recap of the parade including video and photographs.