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Scene in Manchester: Shuffling down the aisle

Special to The New Hampshire Union Leader

March 18. 2012 9:36PM

Our favorite part of last week's 40 Under Forty awards reception may have been John Mortimer's not-so-subtle decision to run up the aisle to accept his well-deserved award. We're not sure whether he's a clever marketing genius or just a guy who really likes running, but it certainly reminded us that Millennium Running, the race organization company Mortimer started in 2010, is hosting its second annual Shamrock Shuffle race this Sunday at 11:15 a.m. on Elm Street, just prior to the Manchester Saint Patrick's Day Parade that starts at noon.

Last year's Shamrock Shuffle was a blast, and word must have gotten out because this year the two-mile race is sold out. If you're attending the parade we suggest you show up early and cheer on the field, which is sure to be decked in a lot of green. event of the week

Speaking of the Manchester Saint Patrick's Day Parade, it seems like a perfect fit for our event of the week. More than 70,000 people are expected to line Elm Street, between Salmon and Auburn Streets, to cheer for bagpipers, high-school bands, and other marching units of all types. Non-perishable food items will be collected along the route for New Horizons soup kitchen.

Before you say, 'But, Saint Patrick's Day was a week ago!' we'd like to point out that parade organizers are well aware of this fact. They hold the parade a week later to keep from competing with other Saint Patrick's Day events and ensure our city gets as many Irish-themed participants in its parade as possible. We think it's a fine solution, and gives us a reason to drink more Guinness than usual.

What a bunch of blarney

Signs of St. Pat's seemed to be everywhere last week, especially at the 12th annual Bob Baines Blarney Breakfast, where the room was packed with the local business community sporting their best green ties, sparkly shamrock necklaces and, yes, even some green cowboy hats. Kudos to the event organizers, Baines and Stephen Singer, for hosting such a fun and entertaining event. If we call any event held at 7 a.m. entertaining, you know it had to be good.

We're not sure which part was best - Ronan Tynan's incredible performance, the moving speech by young veteran and immigrant Yonas Hagos, or Christopher Duffley's patriot songs. No offense to the official speakers, like Gov. John Lynch, Mayor Ted Gatsas and Baines, of course. They did their best to entertain the crowd, at times making it seem like a mini-roast with jabs at the mayor's ability to Irish step-dance and the quality of the governor's jokes. Lynch, who attends the breakfast every year, quipped that the opportunity to miss Baines' rendition of 'McNamara's Band' at future events was one of the deciding factors in his decision not to seek reelection. Later in the week, Lynch got to hear Baines lead a sing-along again - yes, same song - during the Wild Irish Breakfast in Nashua. There, Lynch admitted that after 16 Irish breakfasts (two for each year he was governor) that he still doesn't know any of the words to the ditty.

All that dress-up, joking and singing wasn't just for fun, either. The Blarney Breakfast raises money for the Special Olympics, the Shirley Brulotte Fund for the International Institute of New Hampshire and the American Red Cross. Since its inception, the breakfast has raised more than $400,000. Based on early estimates that this year brought in $70,000 for the organizations, we're happy to see that event organizers are quickly approaching the half-million dollar mark.

Signs of spring

We recently saw some of the first signs of spring during a visit to Elm Street on one unseasonably warm afternoon - loosened ties, open-toed shoes, and big smiles. We spent our lunch hour enjoying a delicious J. Dubs peach smoothie at one of their outdoor tables at the Brady Sullivan Plaza. Adding to the spring sensations were the familiar sounds of D. Heywood and his keyboard. Heywood began performing in front of Baja's on Elm Street last year and is back to bring delight to downtown in 2012. Heywood said he's originally from Nashua and has been playing the keyboard for at least 30 years. Last year he approached the city about playing on Elm Street and they issued him a license. Baja's lets him use their electricity and his music helps bring people in the door. We hope it brings him a little money, too. We suggested he invest in a more prominent tip jar to help in that department.

Bunnies are back!

One of our favorite city organizations is selling chocolate bunnies just in time for Easter this year. The Salvation Army in Manchester has teamed up with Granite State Candy Shoppe in Concord, a family-owned shop that's been satisfying the sweet-toothed since 1927. The 8-ounce solid chocolate bunnies are $8 each and come in milk, white and dark chocolate (we've heard that last option is actually healthy). Money raised goes to fund the Salvation Army's Kids' Cafe, which provides Queen City kids with a warm, nutritious meal each night in a fun and safe environment that includes recreation and after-school tutoring. So, don't wait until the last minute when you're forced to buy some tasteless, mass-marketed, hollow chocolate bunny from the supermarket. Hop to it and contact Andy Barnes at 627-7013 or to order your bunnies today!

Scene in Manchester is a weekly column of social tidbits from around the Queen City assembled by Teresa Robinson and Katie McQuaid. If you have an interesting item for Scene in Manchester, email it to

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