NORWICH — A celebration of the City of Norwich's Irish roots will be held at noon in East Park on Friday, March 17, St. Patrick's Day.
Chenango County Court Judge Frank Revoir will be serving as Master of Ceremonies once again this year. City of Norwich Supervisor James McNeil will hand out St. Patrick's Day goodies such as strings of green beads and miniature Irish flags, and Irish music will play throughout the park as officers with the City of Norwich Police Department hoist the flag.
Attendees will also get to enjoy a rare treat at this year's ceremony: Local bagpiper Steve Cady will be giving a performance.
"This year we’re thrilled because we have our resident bagpiper Steve Cady," said Revoir. "He performs every year in New York City, so he hasn’t been around for St. Patrick’s Day in several years, and this year he decided to take a hiatus."
Irish music will be played through speakers in the park as well throughout the ceremony.
"Usually it’s really too cold for musicians to be standing out there," said Revoir. "Lately, the last several years, even if it’s sunny, it’s still cold. So we’ve stopped, we haven’t had live music in a long time."
The long-standing tradition is estimated to have begun around 2000 by then-County Court Judge Howard Sullivan. Upon his retirement, he passed the torch 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," Revoir explained. "He just thought we ought to do that because of the historical Irish significance in this community, and why not celebrate and have one day where we raise the flag?"
"Then when he retired as county court judge and I took his place, he said to me, ‘part of the baton that I’m passing is you're taking over the flag raising ceremony as well,'" he continued. "I was happy to do it."
While the ceremony was an annual tradition, it just returned last year after a several-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and recurring inclement weather.
"We didn’t do it during COVID, and we might have even canceled it before COVID because of bad weather," said Revoir. "We’ve skipped some years because in the last decade we’ve had some wicked snowstorms the night before. The park had four feet or more of snow, there was no place to stand. In other years it was like zero degrees."
He encourages local residents to stop by the park on St. Patrick's Day to enjoy the festivities and celebrate the area's Irish heritage.
"The ceremony is short, so people won’t lose their entire lunch hour if they come to the event," he said. "I hope the public can come out. I hope the weather’s nice enough that they’re willing to come out and participate."