Irish Flag Raising Ceremony Set To Return On St. Patrick's Day
Published: March 15th, 2022
By: Sarah Genter

Irish flag raising ceremony set to return on St. Patrick's Day Norwich Police Department Chief Rodney Marsh and NPD officers at the Irish flag raising ceremony held in 2019. This year's flag raising will be on Thursday, March 17 at 12 p.m. in East Park. (Photo by Frank Speziale)

NORWICH ― After several years off due to COVID and inclement weather, the annual Irish flag raising ceremony is set to return to downtown Norwich this Thursday, March 17. The event is scheduled for 12 p.m. in East Park, and is open to the public.

"For years it was part of the St. Patrick’s Day tradition here in downtown Norwich. So, knock on wood, I’m hoping this coming Thursday ... at noontime, that we will be raising the Irish flag in East Park," said Chenango County Court Judge and Master of Ceremonies for the event Frank Revoir, Jr. "We used to do it in front of the courthouse, and there’s a big flag pole there, and the music was set up on the courthouse steps. Now, for the last several years we set everything up on that stage in East Park, and use the flag in East Park."

In the first years of the ceremony, it was common for live music to be played during the ceremony. In some recent years, local Irish dancers would perform during the event as well.

Story Continues Below Adverts

"In those early years which was back in the 90s, the weather was beautiful back then, and we would actually set up band equipment and we would perform right out there on the courthouse steps and they would raise the flag," said Revoir. "There was music, and sometimes we also had the Irish dancers."

"Weather is what determines a lot of times whether anybody is willing to participate. Like the dancers are definitely not available this year, but it’s difficult to secure even the Ryan Clan," he added, speaking of the local Irish band he performs with. "Some of the guys in the band, we used to play, but it’s usually too cold for acoustic instruments to be outside there."

Although live music and dancers are not available this year, visitors can still expect a nice ceremony with Irish music, and the City of Norwich Police Department will raise the Irish flag.

"Typically what we’ll do is I’ll set up a sound system and we’ll have some music, some Irish music playing, and they will say a few words, minimal. They’ll raise the flag and play a little more music in the background, and everybody goes off and has their lunch," said Revoir.

"I’m not sure when they take it down, but it stays up for a number of days, and then they bring it back down," he continued. "It’s hoisted up with the American flag. It doesn’t replace the American flag, but it’s there. And the city police have always participated in that ceremony."

The tradition began thanks to former County Court Judge Howard Sullivan, who recognized the strong Irish heritage in the city, according to Revoir.

"Howard Sullivan, my predecessor, started with a group of local people the idea of an Irish flag raising on St. Patrick’s Day, because the City of Norwich in particular has a really strong Irish heritage," he said. "So he came up with that idea while he was the sitting County Court Judge, and so he started coordinating every year on St. Patrick’s Day a formal flag raising with the Norwich City Police Department."

Story Continues Below Adverts

City Supervisor Jim McNeil was also a big part of the festivities, Revoir said.

"I need to give credit to Jim McNeil, because besides myself and even when Judge Sullivan was doing this, Jim McNeil was a big part of it," he explained. "He would rally up people and notify the schools, and he tends to go out and buy Irish pins and beads and things like that, and he often hands those items out to the crowd."

Revoir took over hosting the ceremony after he was elected as County Court Judge, and has done his best to keep the tradition going. However, winter storms and COVID restrictions have forced the cancellation of the flag raising multiple times over the last several years.

"Unfortunately over the last ten years, between the two years of COVID and at least three bad years of, I mean, wicked temperatures, snow storms, ice storms, I’d say we’ve probably done it five times in the last ten years. Even though every year I reserved the park to do it and we were prepped to do it, we had to cancel," said Revoir. "This will be our first year back again to do this event, presuming the weather holds out for next Thursday."

He added that he hopes to continue the tradition in the following years, and may pass the torch onto the next Master of Ceremonies when the time comes. But for now, Revoir said he is just hoping for good weather and a good turnout.

"Some years we’ve had massive crowds, and other years because of the weather not as many," said Revoir. "I hope the public can come out. I hope the weather’s nice enough that they’re willing to come out and participate."