Editorial: Why Our Greenwich Parades Are Special

Photo by John Ferris Robben

Photo by John Ferris Robben

Who doesn’t love a parade? We certainly love a good parade with bagpipes, honor guard, all of our fire apparatus shiny and bright, and marching bands filling the air with a thumping drum beat and horns playing traditional music. Here in Greenwich, we know how to do a parade well. We transform Greenwich Avenue into an outdoor festival with friends and neighbors taking a few hours off to enjoy one another’s company.

This past year we have had several parades, each marking a community milestone, each a celebration of our community. Last March, we held our annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. During Memorial Day Weekend, Old Greenwich magically transformed into a Normal Rockwell painting as we had an old-fashioned parade with red, white and blue as far as the eye could see.

This year marked the 375th anniversary of the founding of Greenwich. What did we do? We had a parade. And oh, what a spectacular one it was. At first glance it did not seem as well attended as St. Patty’s Day or Memorial Day parades. But we soon realized that those who would normally line Greenwich Avenue were actually marching in the parade. It seemed as if every organization in town was marching; it was heartwarming to see so many celebrate their Greenwich roots.

Last fall, we marched in celebration and recognition of our veterans who served during the Vietnam War. We were overwhelmed by our community’s support of these veterans and a little surprised by some—whom we knew well—who stood up. They had never mentioned a word about their service. Indeed, they deserved a long overdue “Thank You” and “Welcome Home.”   

Soon, in mid-March we will host our St. Patty’s Day Parade again. For one day, everyone claims to be a little bit Irish. Even the southwestern-styled Sundown Saloon feels a little bit Irish. And McDuff’s, while Scottish to its core, opens its doors wide to celebrate the patron saint of its neighboring island. Or perhaps they just like a good party. We will transform Greenwich Avenue into a sea of green.

It is fun to see how the traditions continue from year to year. Toward the bottom of the Avenue, on the right-hand side, there should be a pick-up truck with beach chairs and grill all set to feast and watch the parade. Politicians will wear sweaters that they should have considered donating to Neighbor-to-Neighbor years ago. We are waiting to see if Selectman Drew Marzullo will have green hair again this year.

Parades in Greenwich are special. They are probably special everywhere, but we feel there is something about parades in our town that makes them unlike any other. Perhaps it is because when you are at a parade, you are happy. It awakens something in us from our youth; for instance, that time your father let you watch while sitting on his shoulders. There is something innocent about it. Like watching the Shriners perform in their go-carts. Inevitably there is one that is broken down and getting towed. It happens every year, and yet we still laugh, clap our hands and cheer.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and the others, bring our community together in a fun, celebratory way. We have consciously decided that we are going to take a few hours off and be with our friends and neighbors. If it’s a sunny late winter day—even better. It is harbinger of spring and lets us know that winter is coming to a close. There is something about walking up Greenwich Avenue before the parade begins to meet up with others at our traditional viewing spot that builds a sense of anticipation. 

This year, make your plans early. Gather your friends.  Dye your hair green. Let’s get as many people as possible to watch the parade. Let’s take a couple of hours and come together as a community and just have fun. After all, everyone is a little bit Irish.

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