2016-03-17 / Around Town

St. Patrick's Day Remembered

Collecting St. Paddy’s Green
By James Merolla

New Haven Firefighters Emerald Society Pipes & Drums 
Photos by Jon Dillworth New Haven Firefighters Emerald Society Pipes & Drums Photos by Jon Dillworth You wouldn’t think the most difficult task on the day that Newport celebrates St. Patrick’s Day would be asking for a little green.

But that is just what parade organizers Dennis Sullivan and Dan Titus had to do – one on the east side of the road, the other on the west – with big plastic buckets and bigger hopes.

In the wee hours of parade day, after Sullivan and his staff arrive just after 6 a.m. to ensure that the barricades, parade marshals, bands, canines, marchers, floats, and even the porta-potties are properly in place, he and Titus must walk the nearly two-mile parade route shaking their pails and asking for money.

“It’s the most thankless job there is,” said Titus. “There used to be four of us. Now there are only two.”

“It is one of the jobs that people don’t like to do,” added Sullivan. “But it has to be done.”

How Green Am I? winner How Green Am I? winner Anyone involved with the 60th annual parade will tell you that fundraising is the most important assignment year-round. Organizers say it costs just south of $50,000 per year to stage the incredibly popular event that’s so vital to Newport’s color.

Shake. Shake. Shake. Rattle. Rattle. Rattle. The sound of colliding metallic coins in a container alerts parade-goers that the piper has to be paid in order for the entertainers marching past them to be compensated.

“It’s going to be packed today,” said Titus. “Such great weather. More vehicles will cross that [Pell] bridge today than on any other day all year. Dennis works one side and I work the other. Dennis always beats me, he always does.”

Titus said that the most they ever raised jingling buckets was about $2,000. While Sullivan is a large man with an even bigger heart [who described himself as “my own float” to someone who shouted at him from the crowd], Titus was clear that a comely can-carrier is not the answer to garnering the most donations down Broadway and Thames.

Grand Marshals Karen and Bill Cardinal with the R.I. 1916 Easter Rising Float Grand Marshals Karen and Bill Cardinal with the R.I. 1916 Easter Rising Float “One year we used Salve students,” said Titus. “They only made 15 bucks.”

The key, he said, is not looks or youth, but persistent loudness.

2016 Parade Winners

Best Police
Middletown Police Dept.
Bristol Police Dept.
(Honorable Mention)
Tiverton Police Dept.
(Honorable Mention)

Best Fire
Pawtucket Fire Dept.
Middletown Fire Dept.
(Honorable Mention)

Providence Police Dept. Honor Guard Providence Police Dept. Honor Guard Best K-9 Unit
Cranston Police Dept.
R.I. State Police
(Honorable Mention)

Best Honor Guard
Providence Police Dept.

Best Pipes & Drums
Newport AOH

Best Car
Providence AOH
Blues Mobile (Honorable Mention)
Mike Twist (Honorable Mention)

Best Pipes
Brian Boru Pipe Band

Best Small Band
Night Life Party Band

Best Youth Band
Portsmouth High School
Thompson Middle School (Honorable Mention)

Best Historic Fife & Drum Band
Yankee Volunteers Fife &
Drum Corps
Kentish Guards Fife & Drum Corps
(Honorable Mention)
Mystic Highland Pipe Band
(Honorable Mention)

Fall River Fire Department Fall River Fire Department Most Patriotic Unit
Marine Detachment

Best Veteran Unit
Korean War Vets of R.I.

Best Historic Unit
Kentish Guards Fife & Drum Corps

Most Authentic Historic
3rd Arkansas Infantry Company A

Best Float
R.I. 1916 Easter Rising
OceanPointe Church
(Honorable Mention)

Most Friendly Unit
Kingstown Fire Dept.

Best Uniforms
Goulding School of Irish Dance

Dan Titus passes the collection bucket to supporters of the annual Newport St. Patrick’s Day Parade. (Photo by James Merolla) Dan Titus passes the collection bucket to supporters of the annual Newport St. Patrick’s Day Parade. (Photo by James Merolla) Best Musical Float
Pour Judgement/Big Cat Blues
Ben O’Connor
(Honorable Mention)

Best Antique Cars
Westerly Fire Dept.
Jamestown Fire Dept.
(Honorable Mention)

Best Performance
New Haven Firefighters Emerald
Society Pipes & Drums

Best Marching Unit
Colchester Continentals Fife &

Most Creative/Humorous Entry
Daffodillion Days

Best Moustache
Tom Kelly, Newport AOH
North Kingstown Fire Dept.
(Honorable Mention)

Best Beard
Free Men of the Sea Pirates

Best Crowd Pleaser
Tony Lepore the Dancing Cop
Palestine Temple Motor Corps
(Honorable Mention)

Best Green
Fall River Fire Dept.

Best Irish Smile
Irish American Police Officers Pipe
Band of Mass.

Best Dancers
Portsmouth High School Flag
& Dance Team

Best Dancing Seafood
The Landing Lobsters

“You have to be vocal,” he insisted.

“Help support the parade!” yelled Sullivan, countless times. And people dig and dig some more, dropping loose pocket change or a couple of dollars into the red-and-white five-gallon buckets.

“I appreciate it,” smiled Sullivan.

Slowly, inexorably, block after block, the tall Sullivan and the even taller Titus lift the pails over the front row of spectators to the back row, for a drop in the bucket, knowing they will really add up. The two men bend at the knees, at the waist, turn at the hips, like a fire brigade trying to collect dripping water from various roof leaks.

Theirs is the slowest of walks among all the parade marchers. The two men start at the beginning of the parade, just behind the Grand Marshals, but finish with the last trucks. They cannot rush. To move quickly is to miss the next potential donor.

At the end, in the shadow of St. Augustin’s Church, they ache in the joints from all that bending, but they cannot rest. “We have to bust up the barricades,” said Sullivan. “Pull apart the reviewing stands.” They have to undo everything they spent a year setting up.

They will count their hardearned collection later. First, they have to make their last stop. “People have to get paid,” said Sullivan.

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