The Green Green Loot Of Fundraising, Plus: Poop Update And A St. Paddy’s Story

3:30 p.m. UPDATE: Cool parade today on a sweet sunny day in beautiful downtown Bridgeport.

I must confess that I had not taken in a St. Paddy’s Parade in the city in years. The parade was more than an hour long and loaded with bands, floats and city pols. To veteran parade watchers it was the best they had seen in the 25 years or so of its existence.

I soaked up the sun in front of R&R’s cheering on current and former pols such as Lenny Paoletta who started the parade celebration during his years as mayor 1981-85.

Mayor Bill Finch and family were in good spirits. I chatted with the mayor and Probate Judge Paul Ganim. After the parade, I ducked back into R&R’s for a light seafood medley. What, no corned beef! Ah, I’m going to load up on Ms. Mo’s corned beef tonight.

It was nice to catch up to folks I hadn’t seen in a long time. I remember those days as a young scribe trying to convince Police Superintendent Joe Walsh to turn the Pequonnock River green. “Wha’d’ya mean,” he’d say, “damn General Electric and its PCBs already made it green.”

In those days city police cars were green and white so we had St. Patrick’s Day year ’round. Shamrock Pub, The Bon Ton, Dolan’s. Shoot, you could chug a 40-cent draft at Dolan’s. Wear a green tie, win a cocktail; although the bar crowd there was into sharing their beer with their tie.

All kinds of green happening this week. A little birdie told me Mayor Bill Finch’s $500-a-head fundraiser at Testo’s is going as planned, the dough is rolling in and the proprietor Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa is weighing in. That means the mayor should have a mighty nugget of cash come Thursday night. Low end $50K, high end $100K. What the hell, split the difference and it’s a nice start to reelection 2011.

It’s called the power of incumbency. Control the candy store and the sweetness flows (although there’s not as much candy to go around).

The mayor and Chief of Staff Adam Wood are smart to raise the loot, even though the election campaign will not begin in earnest until 2011. Load up while you can. Could this be the beginning of a new honeymoon between the mayor and Mario? And how will Mario’s fundraising efforts impact his reelection for party chairmanship one year from now?

Mario, as a token of goodwill, has even invited all City Council members and Dem district leaders for free. I wonder if Bob Troll Walsh will chow down? I’m guessing not, especially if he cannot bring Judith.

Sludge Update

A little birdie (not the mayor) also told me that Trumbull is having second thoughts about joining the proposed regional water authority with Bridgeport and Monroe. The economics don’t work for Trumbull which has sewers tied into the city’s treatment system. The difference is Trumbull’s pipeline system is modern. The city will need to spend tens of millions in upgrades to separate the storm water from the waste water. Trumbull doesn’t want to subsidize the Bridgeport costs.

Monroe, which has no sewers, wants to do the deal to kick start developer Bob Scinto’s proposal to construct a new Jewish Home for the Elderly. State law allows two municipalities (they need not be contiguous) to create a regional water authority. The one being discussed will be modeled after the New Haven area compact.

But if Trumbull backs out, and Bridgeport and Monroe do the deal, waste water from Monroe must pass through Trumbull. How will that work? More tomorrow.

St. Paddy’s Story

We all know that St. Patrick was Italian, but why should that stop me from reaching out to OIB Irish pal John Gilmore to share a story about one of the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade festivities in the city? This one goes back to the mid 1980s.

Frank McEvoy & The St. Patrick’s Day Parade

By John J. Gilmore

In the early days of Bridgeport’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Joe McNamara rose to head the committee that ran the event. Joe had a reputation in town for being a bit kooky, mostly because of his involvement in a variety of quixotic political campaigns. However, even a kooky person can have a good idea.

It was Joe’s idea to name a Grand Marshal of the St. Patrick’s Parade who was an everyman, not someone from the headlines loaded up with previous honors and successes. He wanted a Grand Marshal who would be a true representative of Celtic culture, a person to honor the position rather than giving someone another resume entry.

To that end, Joe won approval to have as Grand Marshal Frank McEvoy, a diminutive man who toiled in the composing room of the then-Bridgeport Post. Frank spent his life smelling the fumes of the molten lead used to make the hot type that printed the page plates of the daily newspaper. He worked in a noisy composing room filled with clanging linotype machines and his constantly yelling co-workers. Day in and day out, Frank came to work and did what was asked of him, never complaining, never seeking center stage or the limelight. He was one of those invisible workers in every town that simply helped keep the machine of the newspaper running on its daily schedule. That was of course, until he was named Grand Marshal.

Appointment as Grand Marshal was one of the greatest days of Frank’s life. He relished his chance to make the holiday great for others. That was the essence of Frank McEvoy.

So, on March 17, Frank made his way over to a pre-parade breakfast at J.F. O’Connell’s Pub with his bookend of a wife. Jack, the pub owner, once again laid out a free breakfast of coffee, tea and pastries for as many people as could fit in his place for as long as the sweets lasted. Frank entered the bar wearing his Grand Marshal Parade sash, officially identifying him the man of the hour. He beamed as he was congratulated with gusto. It was a small window of fame for Frank, his fifteen minutes Warhol time. However, every story like this must have someone who tries to diminish another person’s good fortune. And this is true of Frank’s story, too.

Almost immediately after Frank arrived at the bar, so did a previous Grand Marshal, a long-time Irish pol who enjoyed a lifetime of well paying low stress political jobs, dozens of political honors and appointment to numerous delegate positions at state and national party conventions. In political circles, the old politico was considered an Irishman’s Irishman. The district boss came into the pub wearing HIS Grand Marshal sash from a previous parade and started working the crowd like a candidate for office.

Guests were confused. The buzz started. Who was the real Grand Marshal? Was a mistake made? Did this little unknown McEvoy usurp the glory position? Soon, new whispers straightened out who the real Grand Marshal was that year. Frank’s position of honor was verified.

The old guy who couldn’t let go of the past was ostracized to a corner where he was seen wrapping pastries in paper napkins and sticking them in his coat pocket for consumption later. Another free lunch!

Through it all, Frank continued to beam and went on to lead the parade. He waved at the crowd, smiled along the entire ten block parade route and helped everyone have a good time. On March 18th he went back to the noise and smells of the composing room, somewhat taller and armed with the memory of a grand day.

As for the other Grand Marshal, he was bestowed with a new honor of being the butt of jokes for years, especially around St. Patrick’s Day.

(Frank is no longer with us. He is missed. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.)



  1. St. Patrick was born and raised in Great Britain but became a captive at age sixteen and was held in Ireland. After six years he escaped and traveled to France and Great Britain. He later returned to Ireland where he spent the remainder of his life and became highly influential in promoting the growth of Christianity.

    The actual confession of St. Patrick begins:

    I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many, had for father the deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a priest, of the settlement [vicus] of Bannavem Taburniae; he had a small villa nearby where I was taken captive. I was at that time about sixteen years of age. I did not, indeed, know the true God; and I was taken into captivity in Ireland.

    St. Patrick returned and spent the rest of his life organizing Irishmen into non-fighting, religious zealots.
    Sports teams aren’t called The Fighting Irish for nothing.

    No matter what your nationality, anyone can be 1% Irish today! Go ahead, get your Irish up–you deserve it!

  2. “Bridgeport Now” show today, March 17, at 8pm Ch 77
    also seen on www

    Today’s Show on Sikorsky Airport issue with special guest, the president of the Friends of Sikorsky Airport. A tale of two cities … and one airport. Should we take the fed’s money and upgrade safety at the airport? What are the key issues?

    Charles Brilvitch will not be in studio today, but is expected to call in for a moment on Quarter Block Row.

    Bob Halstead will be on at 8:25pm to discuss coming auction on March 23 of various city buildings.

    No Bridgeport history today.

    1. Local Eyes,

      I’m starting my own business: recycling plastic, glass, and metal beverage containers. It’s truly a ground-floor opportunity, and the initial investment is small, only a couple of trash bags and a stolen shopping cart.

  3. Are you or do you know anyone who is against changes at Sikorsky Airport, please tune in and call in tonight at 8pm on channel 77, in Bridgeport, Stratford, FFLD.

    At the moment, “Bridgeport Now” is only representing one point of view since we can’t find anyone to speak on this issue otherwise.

    We have read the testimony of, been in touch with, and invited both Senator Dan Debicella and Mayor Jim Miron of Stratford to come on and discuss their views, yet neither have come yet.

    Until we hear otherwise, we are opposed to the following:

    Proposed Bill No. SB-563 – An Act Extending the Moratorium of Realignment of Route 113

    Do you have an opinion on this?

    Call in tonight, on channel 77 at 8pm. Look for the phone number on screen.

  4. To add to the already somewhat shi**y proposal on our sewer system. I think you should stop referring to the project as a “New Jewish Home”. The new proposal actually will look and feel nothing like the current Jewish Home, nor will it serve the community in the same way. The current Jewish Home is a 400-plus-bed skilled Nursing facility, as such it is able and mandated to accept low-income residents on title 19. The proximity to Bridgeport means that many of our lower-income Jewish and non-Jewish are able to get the benefit of the undisputed excellent care provided by the Home.
    The new site will be a Continuing Care Retirement Community; this is the new wave of upscale senior care. Not to bore you with specifics the site will have independent through skilled care but will only offer 100 skilled beds. I am not sure if even these beds will offer acceptance of title 19 funds; I hazard to say no.
    The well-to-do seniors who can afford the buy-in will be the only people served by this community. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.) The question I bring up is why should our city bend over backwards for a proposed community that will leave many Bridgeport folks without needed care?

    This will tax our already strained and polluting sewer system. It will damage Bridgeport’s greatest Natural Resource, Long Island Sound.

    What the new facility will NOT do is provide care to our low-income folks. Lest it not be mistaken, after six months of long-term care most of us reading this blog will become low income if we don’t fit the bill already.

    Pay attention or there will soon be very little long-term care left for low-to-average income folks!

  5. Gossip of The Rialto!

    This just in to the Bridgeport Herald newsroom!!!

    Anna overheard at the climax of the parade, downtown, in front of Ralph N’ Rich’s, telling Yahooy to “Pogue Mahone!”

    Perhaps Booty will be kind enough to translate this salty, as corned beef and cabbage, toast.

    1. (Spanish, Italian, Latin and now Gaelic?)

      Sure. “Pogue Mahone,” or as it’s properly spelled “póg mo thóin,” literally translates to “bésame el culo.” But no one would say that; they’d be more likely to say “chúpame la polla.” (Which would really be funny if Anna said it!)


      1. Literally translated, “bésame el culo” means “kiss my ass.”

        “Sláinte!” is a toast, like “Na zdrowie!” (“to your health!”) in Polish.

        Here endeth the lesson.

  6. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to one and all. Didja know that Saint Patrick chased all the snakes out of Ireland? We ought to pray to him to do the same neat trick for Bridgeport politics, eh? That would be a REALLY neat trick!

  7. The Oracle of Omaha Steaks

    I had a beautiful Corned Beef and Cabbage luncheon at O’Viale’s this noon. Sorry but they are now sold out.

    Today reminds me of a story when times were very dear in Ireland, although the economy of the Irish Tiger has turned into Gaelic Pussy.

    It took place in Port Magee in the County of Kerry.

    Farmer McCarthy, a dairy farmer, offered to the poor and waif-like woman, Widow Brown, who had fallen upon difficult times.

    Farmer McCarthy said to the Widow Brown, “Widow Brown could I offer you some milk? Widow Brown replied: “Oh that would be lovely Farmer McCarthy!”

    To wit, Farmer McCarthy inquired to the good widow; “Would you like it Pasteurized?”

    The Widow Brown instantly replied with a hand gesture across her chest and said: “No! Up to me TITTIES would be fine!!”

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day to All U Can Eat and Drink today.

  8. One day Jesus is walking through Bethlehem with his disciples when he comes across a crowd about to stone a woman for prostitution. Jesus holds up His hand and calms the crowd wondrously. Turning to the crowd, He says “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” A few seconds later a rock comes flying out of the crowd and bonks the whore straight between the eyes. Jesus turns to the crowd and says, “Y’know mother, sometimes you really piss me off!”

  9. Lennie,
    One of the best corned beef and cabbage lunches I ever had was at Ralph and Rich’s. Couldn’t make the parade today. People with real jobs don’t get St. Patrick’s Day off, whether you’re Irish or not. Some years I could take a half a day but this year there is no time for that.
    So I had to schlep into work today and be satisfied with Judith taking me out for St. Patrick’s Day lunch at Tommy Sullivan’s in Branford.
    May have been the second-best St. Paddy’s Day lunch that I ever had.


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