New London Irish Parade president Marie Friess-McSparran said Monday that the event will feature several new features.
Friess-McSparran, who is also a city councilor, spoke at a “before hours” Irish breakfast networking event hosted by Friends of Mitchell College at Hanafin’s Irish Pub. She said one new feature is “co-grand marshals,” with Mayor Daryl Finizio and Rear Admiral Sandra Stosz, superintendent of the Coast Guard Academy, leading the procession. The Coast Guard is complementing the event with tours of New London-based vessels at the waterfront.
The parade starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday and will proceed down Huntington and Tilley Streets before turning onto Bank Street and returning up State Street. Shamrocks were painted along the route on Monday.
“We have over 700 marchers in the parade so far,” said Friess-McSparran. “My fax machine at home shoots out marching applications up to the day of the parade.”
The parade program has grown from 24 pages to 32, and local business Pinc! Boutique created thesashes to be worn by the grand marshals. Friess-McSparran said Northern Light Gems, which recently opened a store on State Street, is also looking to make special jewelry in honor of the parade.
Proceeds from the event benefited Friends of Mitchell College, an organization providing scholarships to students at the school. Members of the organization also receive benefits such as access to the college’s beach, library, and tennis court.
The event also marked the return of Irish breakfasts at Hanafin’s, which will be offered on Sunday mornings.