MERIDEN — Crowds gathered throughout the downtown area Saturday to watch the 48th Meriden St. Patrick’s Day parade.
The parade returned for a second year in a row after fundraising challenges forced two straight cancellations during the pandemic.
Organized by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the parade has been a staple of the downtown Meriden area for nearly half a century.
East Main Street was closed off as troupes of police officers, fire trucks, and drummers from the Stony Creek Drum Corps, Ancient Mariners, and the Platt High School Marching Band paraded from Parker Avenue down to Bradley Avenue — a route which took 45 minutes.
Organizations from across the local community attended to show solidarity for the event — the Knights of Columbus, Silver City Girls Softball, Beat the Street Community Center, Boys & Girls Club, among others, following the lead of St. Patrick through downtown.
The Stony Creek Drum Corps and Ancient Mariners had riflemen and cannons as part of their display, sounding them off as they marched, much to the surprise and enjoyment of the spectators present.
Many of the marchers who rode in vintage police and fire vehicles threw out candy to the crowd and sounded off sirens. The end of the parade was followed by a line of massive pickup trucks that blasted horns in a chorus.
Jim Finley, a long-standing co-chair of the parade committee, served as the procession’s grand marshal this year.
Onlookers were pleased with the show returning after financial troubles had nearly forced its cancellation again last year.
“It’s just great that we can keep coming to see the parade,” Meriden resident Georgia DePalo said. “We come every year. It’s just a fun time seeing everyone out and the music playing. It’s hard to imagine St. Patrick’s without everyone coming together down Main Street.”
The future of the parade was in jeopardy after the organizers, the AOH, faced financial crisis following the pandemic — which caused the event to be canceled in 2020 and 2021. Those same difficulties forced the organization to sell its Meriden clubhouse, though they weren’t able to foot the $6,000 bill for the event.
U.S., Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, who grew up in Meriden, ultimately rallied support from the community for the event to meet its fundraising goals, allowing for the parade to resume last year and continue the ongoing town tradition.
Having returned again this year without difficulty, and drawing more large crowds, many remain hopeful that the parade will continue to be a staple of St. Patrick’s Day in Meriden.