The nonprofit corporation that has organized three St. Patrick's Day parades in New London has dissolved.
The announcement comes several months after parade organizers announced that they would not be hosting a parade this year due to a dispute with the city administration over permit fees and just days before a parade organized by a new committee is set to kick off.
"The New London Irish Parade wishes to thank all of the volunteers, supporters, participants and well wishers that contributed to making the parade the huge success that it became in so few years," said Marie Friess-McSparran, president of New London Irish Parade Inc., in a press release.
Fries-McSparran said decision to dissolve the 501(c)(3) corporation was made by the parade's executive board. She said the annual parade began with a grassroots effots by Diarmuid Hanafin, Thor Torgerson, and others to hold a St. Patrick's Day procession up State Street in 2007.
The New London Irish Parade gained nonprofit status in 2010, according to an IRS filing posted on the organization's website. Friess-McSparran said the parade grew to become the largest single day event in the city, estimating that over 1,000 marchers and 15,000 spectators attended the 2012 parade.
Last year's parade expanded their route from its former march up Bank Street and State Street, incorporating Huntington Street and Tilley Street into the march to have a loop and lengthier procession. Friess-McSparran said that so many participants had started to take part in the march that the larger staging area in the parking lot of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Congregation was needed, since the former staging area of South Water Street had participants extending over the railroad tracks.
However, the longer route also raised administration concerns about costs incurred by city services to support events. In issuing an executive order saying the city will not issue a permit for special events unless payment is first received for the use of any services, Mayor Daryl Finizio cited police overtime costs at the parade as one motivating factor in the decision.
The order led to a dispute between Finizio and the parade over the costs that would be incurred by the New London Police Department and Department of Public Works during the parade. The parade committee ultimately voted to hold a parade in another community in 2013, and this decision prompted the administration to form a new parade committee to organize a St. Patrick's Day parade for New London.
This committee, headed by organizers Barbara Neff and Sean Murray, has put together the New London St. Patrick's Day Parade, will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The parade will follow a former route of the New London Irish Parade, staging on South Water Street and marcing along Bank Street and State Street before concluding on Washington Street.
Friess-McSparran said the New London Irish Parade committee decided not to hold its own parade in another community so as not to distract from the New London parade.
"The New London Irish Parade Inc. is confident that the team in place will put on a parade that only improves on the solid foundation and prospers while filling New London with marchers and spectators," she said.
Friess-McSparran also said the committee members and volunteers will continue to support and promote Irish culture in New London individually.
"The decision of the executive board of the New London Irish Parade was not an easy one," she said. "The executive board states that the 501(c)(3) corporation was no longer able to commence in the activities for which it was incorporated and as such cannot continue to operate. New London like any community cannot host or support two Irish parades."
According to the parade committee's bylaws, any dissolution of the corporation must be accompanied by a distribution of any assets to public causes. Friess-McSparran said the funds were distributed to other Irish organizations prior to the board's decision to dissolve.
Finizio previously said the New London St. Patrick's Day Parade would be required to pay any necessary fees under his executive order. After another dispute regarding municipal costs associated with an annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day march, Finizio said he plans to include an item in his proposed 2014 fiscal year budget establishing a fund for the City Council to appropriate toward event costs at their discretion.