New Parade Committee Looks To Organize New London St. Patrick's Day Parade

Mayor Daryl Finizio announces formation of committee after breakdown of permit negotiations with New London Irish Parade

A new committee has been formed to hold a St. Patrick’s Day parade in  New London following the breakdown of permit discussions with the New London Irish Parade, Mayor Daryl Finizio announced this evening.

Finizio said the committee will be headed by Sean Patrick Murray and Barbara Neff. Murray has been involved in coordinating local concerts, including the I AM Festival, while Neff is the executive director of the Downtown New London Association and has set up waterfront events such as Sailfest.

“The New London Irish Parade Committee has produced a well-organized event that has benefited New London for the past few years and it is unfortunate to see them go, but this is a great event for New London businesses and is a lot of fun for out entire community,” Murray said in a statement.

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Murray said he approached the city and DNLA about the possibility of forming a new parade committee following the news that the New London Irish Parade committee had voted to hold the 2013 event in another community. The organizers of the new committee are looking to hold a parade on March 17, one day after the date the New London Irish Parade plans to hold its event.

“I am confident New London can have a great parade this year,” Neff said. “This is a great event for our local businesses and I have already heard from numerous downtown businesses that have committed to help us pay for the necessary city services to keep this event in New London.”

Use of municipal services

The use of city services proved a source of difficulties in discussions between the New London Irish Parade committee and city. Under an executive order signed by Finizio in May, event organizers must pay for the use of any municipal services that will be used before a permit for the event is approved.

The New London Irish Parade sought to repeat its 1.1-mile route along Huntington Street, Tilley Street, Bank Street, and State Street. The city’s original estimates put the cost for New London Police Department services at $15,076.81 and Department of Public Works services at $3,489.79. The city said the estimates for reducing some services and holding the parade along a former .6-mile route up Bank Street and State Street would put the total police costs at $6,437.26 and Public Works costs at $1,599.47.

The New London Irish Parade committee said it would contribute up $7,500 toward municipal costs, but voted to hold the parade in another community after saying it was unwilling to commit to a New London parade without a fixed cost. Both Finizio and Marie Friess-McSparran, a city councilor and president of the committee, also said they thought there were political motivations on the part of the committee and city, respectively.

Friess-McSparran said the committee has not met with city officials since the vote, but that the city made an offer to charge a set fee of $7,500 if the parade took place along Bank and State Street. She said the committee did not agree to the offer because of the need for a larger staging area than this route would provide. The longer route staged in the parking lots for All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church as well as St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church while the shorter route staged on South Water Street.

“It was actually dangerous to stage for us down there because we had so many participants we were actually staging across the train tracks,” said Friess-McSparran.

The new committee will still be responsible for paying for the use of these services. Zak Leavy, Finizio’s executive assistant, said the administration will meet with members to determine a route based on the costs they will be able to afford.

“It’s a lot of work”

Anyone interested in sponsoring or volunteering with the new committee should contact Murray at Nlstpatsparade@gmail.com. Finizio said he was pleased to see the formation of the new committee.

“I am very encouraged by the enthusiasm expressed by our local event promoters and local businesses who are working together to have a great St. Patrick’s Day parade this year in New London,” he said. “This effort demonstrates what is best about New London.”

Friess-McSparran wished the newly formed committee luck in putting together the parade, but said it will be a major undertaking for them to do so in five months.

“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “In order to put the parade that we put on last year, we start from the day after we have our parade and we’ve been working since last March to put on the 2013 parade.”

Friess-McSparran estimated that there were about 1,000 participants in this year’s event, most of the whom came from organizations outside of New London to march in the parade. She said some participants may choose to take part in one parade but not the other, noting that groups have been unwilling to take part in the New London Irish Parade if they are participating in other St. Patrick's Day events in the region.

“Most participants do not like to march in parades that are that close together or in towns that are abutting,” she said.

The New London Irish Parade is a nonprofit registered with the parade. Friess-McSparran said the group cannot change its name as a result, and that its event will likely be presented as a St. Patrick’s Day parade put on by the New London Irish Parade Inc. She said the committee is still negotiating with other communities to find a new location for the 2013 event.

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Alan Green, Jr. October 10, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Awesome! The right people at the right time! Go Barbara! Go Sean! BTW, my nickname for Mr. Murray is 'Ceremonial'. We have one really strong mayor who is all the things he needs to be, but Sean is the master of ceremonies... for all the cool stuff that happens in New London. I have no doubt this parade will be all that. Congratulations to all! Now I'm psyched! This is gonna be one bad**s parade!!!
--Robert October 10, 2012 at 11:54 PM
No one better to organize a party in New London. Barbara and Sean make up a formidable team and will get the job done. All of the people who need to be part of making it happen are already in their Rolodexes. That said, I do sincerely mean a huge THANK YOU to the organizers of previous years' Irish Parades. Hanafin's was a big reason for these celebrations happening, and there have been many groups playing a part, and everyone's had a great time at these annual events. You guys have put on a good show and I am truly sorry that there is so much acrimony in this town at this time, preventing the tradition from continuing. I wish good luck and a good event to all participants and I know I will enjoy the day, on State Street, with a Guinness in hand.
Wayne Vendetto October 11, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Sorry things did not work out for the original committee, they have done a great job in the past, but glad the show will go on. With Barbara on board, there is no way for it not to be successful. There are enough Towns in the area to share the green.
Jaded October 11, 2012 at 03:47 AM
All I have to say regarding this is that this is simply more evidence of the mayor's personal agenda. The folks on the original New London Irish Parade committee have worked hard this year to organize the parade, have provided scholarship opportunities and have put on amazing parades in previous years. To have a government takeover, spearheaded by Mister Fiz, is disgraceful and distasteful. The committee was willing to pay for services rendered but simply wanted an accurate, final cost breakdown so that fundraising could move forward and Mister Government himself could not provide such a cost breakdown. This is all on HIS head, and nobody else's. What a shame! Good luck organizing such an event in only five months!
Emily Kendall October 11, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Interesting read, read the piece in the Day as well; http://theday.com/article/20121010/NWS01/121019943/1044 "With no success in negotiations for an agreement with the organizers of the annual Irish Parade, the mayor announced Wednesday that he has created a new parade committee" The mayor has created a new parade committee! Hmmmm says it all. Give an unreasonable deadline to a non profit that you have stone walled for months and all the time you were working to form a new committee. This is in the mayors own words. What a piece of $h&# this guy is. But wait the merry band of little boys and Fizzy supporters will say it was a mistake and the paper got it wrong again. Everyone gets what the mayor says wrong! How is that possible every single time that Fizzy speaks? Fizzy cannot be trusted in any way shape of form. Good luck to both parade committees! I wish them both success. The terrain is getting crowded, a parade in Mystic, one in Waterford and this new one in New London. The fact is attendance will suffer for all of them. If these two new parade committee workers Sean Murry and Barbara Neff were so interested a New London parade how come they did not volunteer with the original parade committee to pull this off. That would have made the most sense. Unless that was the plan by the mayor the whole time to drive those he perceived as political oponents out and do his own thing. We all know that his own thing is all Fizzy wants.
Alan Green, Jr. October 11, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Emily - I would 'flag as inappropriate' your comment, but it only goes to prove why this takeover of the parade by the administration was wise. You might want to think about the children when you teach them that it's ok to be completely disrespectful to a public official in public. Your words speak more about your own character than anyone else's. Please think about your use of profanity, personal attacks and baseless claims. It does no one any good - most notably YOU.
Greg Bryant October 11, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Mr. Green Jr. Were you never taught that respect must be earned? It seems that the claims by Ms. Kendal are right on the money. Reading the Day piece the mayor states that he formed a new committee, that does not happen overnight. One quick question, is the new parade committee a real non profit like the original committee? Tough to raise any real funds without that status. If as the administration states the fees will be the same I do not see the local struggling business owners kicking in the additional tax increase and the $7,500 for this new parade. The mayor does not want them as taxpayers to vote on the budget but wants them to pay more taxes and pony up cash for "HIS NEW PARADE". Just not going to happen. But I must agree with the previous commenters, good luck to both parade groups with their endeavors, may they both be very successful. Another fine example of the mayor winning the hearts and minds of our community members.
Alan Green, Jr. October 11, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Mr. Bryant - I was taught that respect is earned when a person is elected to office and should be afforded that person in public. I call people Mr. Mayor or Councilor when I see them - regardless of whether I agree with them or not. I was also taught to question my government - but to do it respectfully. As for general respect being earned, absolutely. But position - such as employer-employee - should come with automatic respect. The Mayor is our employee. And if I treated an employee the way some people treat our Mayor, I'd be accused of creating a 'hostile work environment'. It's not healthy, it's not productive, and it reflects poorly on the employer. Yes, question and criticize his decisions, his approach perhaps... but when one hurls epithets and personal insults, it's a whole different thing. But that's just the way I was raised.
Greg Bryant October 11, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Alan Green Jr, Respect is never given to anyone without earning it. You need to retake that lesson. A certain level of respect is normally afforded to an office not to the individual until they earn the respect. You and your pal supports of the mayor have attacked a few of the council members is disrespectful ways for nearly 10 months. Yet that is some how ok in your mind! If the mayor is our employee as you state then he should be more respectfull of the citizens and chill his my way or the highway attitude. Telling people, business and organizations that they can just leave if they do not like how he is doing things does not garner any respect.
Alan Green, Jr. October 11, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Greg - If you can be specific, I'd be happy to apologize for any sign of disrespect you've seen from me toward any council members. Thanks!
William Desmond October 11, 2012 at 01:38 PM
The Mayor started a new parade committee! Did he personally ever try to meet with the parade committee and work things out? I doubt it, the mayor thinks he is some big city politician who remains distant and insulated from the community. Looks like from the comments and crap going back and forth Boy Wonder Zak handles everything, albeit badly but he is the go between.
Greg Bryant October 11, 2012 at 01:40 PM
So it is then OK if you are disrespectful and then just say "I'm sorry" and it all goes away. That may work for children. You sir are not a child but an adult. This is the real world.
Greg Bryant October 11, 2012 at 01:52 PM
In the Day ZAK says: Zak Leavy Posted: October 11, 2012 9:41 am Wondering, The cost in question was the actual cost for Police and PW. The City does not make a profit out of it and if costs end up coming in under the amount paid, we refund the event to the organizers. Has that ever happened, a refund I mean? Show us Boy Wonder!
Spencer October 11, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Alan? Tell us once again how you love and respect anything and everything Marie Fries McSparren and her husband does for this City?? You never, ever of course ever disrespected them--have u? Now before you say how respectful you are to Marie--I wish for you to consider your following statement to Kathleen Mitchell on the "I love a parade" blog.. "I know you'll find this hard to believe, but it is actually YOU and many more like you who continually try to bring 'negative attention to this city with' your 'petty political games.' Ms. McSparan seems to have an apt crony in you." Now again--Alan--please tell us how you show respect for every sitting counciler member? Or do we need that apology you promise?
lion king October 11, 2012 at 03:10 PM
i love a parade,looks like the irish parade is going on afterall , kathleen mitchell for grand marshall ///////////////////////////////////
lion king October 11, 2012 at 03:11 PM
pink shamrocks ,yellow clovers, i cant wait to see
Rick Lushay October 11, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Pink Shamrocks seems to be a bit .....ODD .
MEB October 11, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Well said Mr. Green. I couldn't have said it better myself.
Carol D. Fox October 11, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Well said Alan and I agree.
Rick Lushay October 11, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Simple Spencer, you misunderstood what Alan was trying to say, you took it wrong, or it was a typo. No matter what it is not his fault.
Rick Lushay October 11, 2012 at 05:26 PM
MEB & Carol are you two more KOOL AIDE consumtionists or Alan Green Jr's pals. Just by being elected you do not get any automatic respect. It has to be earned. To avocate anything else is absurd.
MEB October 11, 2012 at 06:32 PM
@Emily, Who said anything about a parade in Waterford? Maybe THAT was the plan all along. The Mayor wasn't trying to drive the Irish Parade Committee out of town. As you read in The Day this morning, the city will charge the same rates to the new committee if they choose to use the same parade routes as the former committee. So was it politically motived, perhaps? But on which side? Not the side you and the rest of the conspiracy theorists want everyone to believe. It seems to me the conspiracy theorists have pushed their non support of this administration into all aspects of New London's well being. One last thing, you may want to take a look at last year's Irish Parade Program you will see Ms. Neff's name listed as a committee member.
MEB October 11, 2012 at 06:47 PM
@ Lushay & Greg...So then by your theories, anybody in an authoritive position (or figure) including your parents, a teacher, a police officer, or even our own POTUS doesn't deserve the respect that is due? They have to earn it first? How long did it take your parents to EARN your respect? Wait...maybe you didn't earn, I mean learn that lesson.
Emily Kendall October 11, 2012 at 06:56 PM
MEB, I had heard Waterford being talked about, not a great place for a parade. Barbara Neff does a great job with a lot of events It is good to know that she was part of the successful parade. I am sure that both parades will do fine. But a quick question, where is the new parade going to come up with $7,500 to pay for a permit up front as the executive order states? Maybe the mayor will waive that requirement. If they then do not raise the money will the parade be cancelled before it starts? Will the taxpayers get hit with the bill? I do not see the downtown business owners coming up with the $7,500 to put this on. The politics is happening all on the mayor's side, he is the professional politician.
Spencer October 11, 2012 at 07:42 PM
I don't know--but I did not see that offer--being offered to The Irish Parade Committee...Hmmm...Zak?
Spencer October 11, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Rick--is that to say then when I read Alan and other Daryl or FFers and the likessupporters calling Marie, (Whose husband Dan, by the way is a union man himself--so critcism from union people is highly unwarrented nor are they dignified), when these people refer to Marie as being a no good, red headed blah, blah, blah...They are basicly saying that "Marie Freiss McSparren is just the best thing to happen to NL since Benedict Arnold left for Canada!" Is that how we have to interpret the insults?? They are really typing nice things---the nice things just have to be decoded???
Jeff Brown October 11, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Rick, Greg, Lion, spencer, william, you people are all grasping at straws, and it's really getting alittle sad. It's a parade , it's for the people of new london and the kids. If you can't enjoy it then don't go . It's that simple. I know i'll be there because...I love a parade!
Spencer October 11, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Jeff--it is not the parade I object to!! Yes--Let NL have a parade!! Bring people in----Give the business' some bussiness!! I am all for it and commend it. My issue---is the fact that this seems so underhanded. Sure the Administration say this is all unplanned and whatever. It may look that way on paper--but it certainly doesn't look that way in the heart of people--who care about the people this hurts. The Mayor and his goonies may think they won---but there are people who do care about Dan and Marie---even if the Mayor doesn't give a crap about them.
Kathleen Mitchell October 11, 2012 at 09:01 PM
It is unfortunate, not to mention deceptive, that Marie Friess-McSparran has been the one to take the full criticism for the Irish Parade SNAFU. Have people forgotten or simply not aware of the fact that the New London Irish Parade, Inc is composed of ten members all of whom have voting privileges?
MEB October 11, 2012 at 09:06 PM
I agree with you on that, the old committee did a great job as i'm sure the new one will as well. You pose the question "where is the new committee going to come up with $7500 to pay for a permit up front?" But then you answer it with "Maybe the mayor will waive that requirement." Why do you ASSUME he would just waive the fee? Again, stop being so negative and looking for doubt in every decision that is made without even exploring the steps that have already been taken to move forward. Give the man a break already! He's trying to keep a St. Patty's parade in NL no matter who runs it. So good for him for figuring a way to do so. Now to answer your question, the fundraising has begun. With the hard work of the committee and volunteers I am confident they will raise the funds. And as a resident and NL business owner I have offered to help out in any way that I can. May I recommend you do the same? Support doesn't have to come out of your pocket.


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