Seventy-seven-year-old St. Patrick's Day parade makes history as 2019 Grand Marshal is 10th woman and 1st Honor Attendant to rise to the ranks of the well-earned and prestigious position.
The Greater New Haven St. Patrick's Day Parade that began on March 17, 1842, is celebrating another historic milestone this year as the 2019 Grand Marshal is the 10th woman and 1st Honor Attendant to rise to the ranks of the well-earned and prestigious position.
Courtney Lundgren Connors was born in New Haven, CT, the daughter of Martin Lundgren and Deborah Salemme. With the streets of New Haven lined with 300,000 spectators, Courtney will proudly lead the Greater New Haven St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 10, 2019, on her historic march down Chapel Street, tipping her hat in respect while turning the corner of Theresa McHale Hinckley Boulevard onto Church Street. 2019 marks the year of honoring women in our community who have made significant contributions to the New Haven parade.
Read more: These are the Irish songs you need to know for St. Patrick's Day
Courtney's earliest memories of the New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade begin as a little girl standing with her grandparents on Church Street eagerly waiting for her father, a New Haven firefighter, to march toward them. She was always so proud to see him march down in his dress uniform, proudly following in his father’s footsteps of public service. Her grandfather would share stories of how his unit, the American Legionnaires of the New Haven Police Department used to be one of the lead units of the parade in years past. She recalls waiting for the Queen of the parade to come down, admiring her from the crowd, dreaming about maybe one day riding in that car herself representing the Irish community.
Once crowned 2007 Honor Attendant, that was not only the attainment of one goal, rather it turned out to be the start of her own journey with the parade committee. She remembers sitting in awe at her first parade meeting, never previously understanding what it took to put the parade on the street, but now seeing the amazing efforts of the committee. On parade day as she rode along in the car, wearing her grandmother’s fur stole waving to the spectators of the parade, she saw other little girls standing with their parents, grandparents, entire families and it brought her back to her younger days. She knew then as she rode in the parade for the first time, she wanted to be a part of the group that keeps this going, an event which continues to put smiles on the faces of young and old alike. She knew she needed to help keep this tradition alive so that another firefighter’s daughter gets to see her father applauded by other spectators as he marches through New Haven.
Once she joined the parade committee, she, like many other volunteers, had something unique to bring to the committee. As a young professional with a finance background, she found her niche on the Corporate Contributions committee. She was invigorated by the parade committee and their collective goal. The first time she wore the official uniform, the morning suit, put on the tricolor sash adorned with her grandmother’s Harp pin to march down Chapel Street, she was full of pride. This was a different type of experience. She was no longer the Honor Attendant wearing a tiara as a representative, rather it was an even deeper pride. She was now a committee member who helped make this parade happen. In 2008, she marched down Chapel Street with the parade committee. In that same parade, her father marched with the New Haven Fire Department. Her beloved grandparents watched their son and his daughter march past as they sat in the reviewing stand, smiling and proud.
Read more: Traditional Irish recipes for St. Patrick's Day
Throughout her career on the committee, she served as the Corporate Contributions Chair for 6 years, leading the team that raised money for the parade through building relationships with area companies. As Courtney became a wife and mother, she recognized a need for the parade to continue to evolve and appeal to families. She is very proud that under her direction while Chief of Staff the parade hosted the first Family Fun Zone festival on the New Haven Green prior to the 2016 parade kicking off. It was a wonderful way to partner with the Town Green District to provide pre-parade programming to entertain and excite the youngest spectators. As the parade committee is constantly working to raise fund she brainstormed and implemented new events for the committee such as the Q Club Beer Tasting and Elm City Craft Crawl event with the Elm City Party Bike and New England Brewing Company. She also participated in the committees for several wine tasting events. She never lost sight of her start though and continues to serve on the Queen Selection Committee of the New Haven Gaelic Football and Hurling Club.
She feels honored to lead an amazing group of volunteers as they all march toward their common goal. Parade Day is a fabulous way to join her family and other individuals honoring their heritage and respecting tradition because it is more than just a parade, it is the tradition that weaves together generations. It is an event in the Elm City that celebrates everyone coming together for one day to laugh, smile and cheer on the variety of diverse marching units together.
Aside from her roles on the committee, she graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2004 Cum Laude with a BS degree in Accounting and a minor in International Relations. Courtney works as an Assistant Controller for Financial Reporting at Yale University. She also indulges her love of event coordination through her own business, Courtney Connors Events, coordinating weddings and events.
Courtney resides in Hamden, CT with her husband, Leo, and their three children, Leo, Ava, and Roy.
Do you have St. Patrick's Day news you'd like to share with the global Irish community? Why not join IrishCentral's contributor's platform Irish Voices? You can learn more about it here and sign up here
This article was submitted to the IrishCentral contributors network by a member of the global Irish community. To become an IrishCentral contributor click here.