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Can a St. Patrick's parade drive the snakes from New London?

By David Collins

Publication: The Day

Published 03/15/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 03/14/2013 11:42 PM

Usually, people think of St. Patrick's Day parades as jolly events, an occasion to celebrate.

In New London, of course, the parade is also politically fraught.

The group that successfully sponsored the first official New London parade, lately under the direction of City Councilor Marie Friess-

McSparran, left town in a huff last fall, saying they were taking their parade to another community.

Friess-McSparran complained at the time that Mayor Finizio was playing hardball with the group over fees for city services.

"It is truly distressing that some members of the (parade) committee are playing politics," Finizio responded.

Not one to let the political parade football fly past, the mayor then jumped in and endorsed a new parade organization, which now appears poised to roll out a big fun event Sunday.

Friess-McSparran threw in the towel this week, saying the nonprofit New London Irish Parade Inc. is dissolving.

The threat to move the parade elsewhere, to a community more flexible about fees than Mayor Finizio, turned out to be hollow.

New London Irish parade political scoreboard: Mayor Finizio 1, Councilor Friess-McSparran, 0.

But the intrigue of the Finizio-Friess-McSparran standoff could pale next to the political spectacle that might unfold if the city's representative in the General Assembly, Ernest Hewett, decides to put on his parade shoes and walk.

The political delegation Sunday will include Gov. Dannel Malloy, who was among the finger-waggers who recently accused Hewett of sexual harassment when the New London representative, responding to a young woman testifying about her fear of snakes, said that he had a snake under his desk.

Malloy, who apparently, like many others in Hartford, can't think of snakes without thinking of sex, called the Hewett remark "repugnant."

Many Hewett supporters back home in New London, meanwhile, took the very public amplified remark for what it obviously was: an attempt at humor, to make the woman testifying more comfortable.

I hope Hewett decides to show up Sunday and walk proudly in his city's parade.

I would wager he would get a better much reception than the governor. In any event, seeing the two together could be the best political theater of the day.

It wouldn't give Hewett back the General Assembly leadership post that was summarily snatched from him. Nor would it restore the pay cut he was unjustly given.

But it might provide Hewett and the people of New London who voted for him, including all those who have publicly voiced their support, some needed catharsis.

After all, St. Patrick is known for driving the snakes out of Ireland.

What better occasion than a St. Patrick's Day parade to drive them out of New London.

This is the opinion of David Collins

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Most Recent Poll
Sunday is St. Patrick's Day. How will you celebrate?
I plan to go to at least one parade.
10%
I'll hoist a few pints with friends this weekend: Just like I did last weekend.
11%
I'll watch my favorite movie filmed in Ireland, 'The Quiet Man.'
5%
I'll enjoy some corned beef and cabbage.
57%
I'm going to hike to the top of Lantern Hill and drive the snakes from Connecticut.
18%
Number of votes: 563

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