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For years, Eunice Laverty would tell her younger employees that they would not miss the Labor Day Parade if they worked that Monday morning. The owner of Bagel Delight would tell “the kids,” she recalled May 2, that the parade would be going right through the store.
“Some of them really expected it to come through here,” she said Wednesday afternoon, laughing at the memory.
Thanks to Bagel Delight’s location just off the parade route, she said, Labor Day morning is always busy for Ms Laverty and her crew. Most years it does feel like the majority of those who participate in the state’s largest (and perhaps only) Labor Day Parade, or are heading toward the center of town to watch it, pass through the doors of the westernmost storefront at 30 Church Hill Road at some point that morning, she said.
This year Ms Laverty will have one of the best seats in the house on September 3. The Labor Day Parade Committee has announced Ms Laverty will be the grand marshal of the 57th annual event.
Melissa Kopcik, who is returning with Meredith Roland as participant and lineup coordinators this year, said it was a group effort that led to this year’s decision.
“A Facebook message was put out last month to the public on seeking suggestions for a grand marshal,” she said May 2. “While we had many wonderful suggestions, our discussion brought us to Eunice.
“Eunice is a generous woman who gives with her whole heart to everyone she comes in contact with, and also is a tremendous supporter of our youth and community,” she added.
Ms Laverty has been the proprietor of her business for 22 years. She opened a Bagelman franchise in 1996, and then became an independent business owner ten years later. She launched that career after retiring as a full-time social worker, according to Ms Kopcik.
“Aligning with our grand marshal, our theme evolved into ‘Serving Newtown,’ which will focus on small businesses in town,” Ms Kopcik said.
Traditions And Routines
Parade days at Bagel Delight begin early, just like every other day of the year. On those Mondays, the crew knows to expect a surge from people picking up orders, often residents who live along the parade route who host viewing parties.
Many residents and attendees also visit.
“It’s very traditional,” Ms Laverty said. “We see many of the same people, and they usually come in with similar orders. People on Main Street especially, they host parties at their homes, so they plan ahead.”
Many participants repeatedly park in the same area near her shop, get dressed, and then head to their location within the lineup, she said.
“We’ll see them a few hours later, getting out of their uniforms and taking a break,” Ms Laverty said. “They stay for a while and enjoy their time.”
Once the parade route and a few roads in the immediate vicinity are closed to vehicle traffic, business inside Bagel Delight also slows to almost nothing for a few hours, she said.
“There’s a lull then, so we go outside and listen to the parade,” Ms Laverty said. “You can hear everything from here.”
Police officers and firefighters who are stationed on Church Hill Road, sending traffic over The Boulevard for the duration of the closure, often receive bagels and soft drinks around that time, Ms Laverty.
“We keep them fed and hydrated,” she said.
Her generous spirit is legendary. Countless events in Newtown have featured the wonderfully dense and chewy treats from Bagel Delight that are baked up every morning, often donated along with cream cheese that is also flavored and packaged in the shop.
Additionally, Bagel Delight never offers day-old bagels. Customers who stop in toward the close of business are usually sent off with a few extra bagels in addition to what they have ordered, ensuring empty bins at closing and fresh starts for the bakers the following morning.
The mother of two and grandmother of five, Ms Laverty is the one who opens the front door at 5 am each day. She is also the one who locks up at 5 pm. The shop is open every day, including abbreviated hours on holidays. The days, nor the heat, are not overwhelming to her. Year round she wears long-sleeve shirts, often topped with fleece vests or pullovers.
“I’m immune to it by now,” she said of the high temperatures that carry from the ovens in the back well into the front of the business, year round.
It is not easy to hold a conversation with Ms Laverty during business hours. Customers stop in regularly, and she knows many of them by name if not their order preferences. Familiar cries of “Hi honey!” carry over the counters dividing the food area from the customer area, as do queries about friends and family, children, pets, even school projects regularly coming from the slight woman who always seems to be smiling.
Dozens of young students from Hawley School and Newtown Middle School stop in each afternoon following dismissal, as do many churchgoers on the weekends.
“You know what to expect in many ways,” Ms Laverty said. “And we love our customers. It brings us to tears, how loyal people are.”
Newtown, she said, “has been very good to me, to us. Things could not be better.”
As with last year’s grand marshal, Ms Laverty did not give the Parade Committee an immediate answer when first contacted with the invitation to lead the Labor Day Parade. She reportedly tried to decline the invitation, but promised to think about it for a few days.
“Like Lee [Paulsen, the 2017 grand marshal], it took a few days for her to accept the position,” Ms Kopcik said.
Even during the interview that served as the basis for this story, Ms Laverty continued to make suggestions of others who should be a grand marshal.
“I was so taken aback,” she said. “There’s so many other people who are worthy of such a distinction.”
Ms Laverty and her guests will not be throwing bagels during the parade. She laughed at the suggestion this week.
“Oh no, no, no,” she said. “Someone did that once, but we’re not going to do that.”
An out-of-town bagel shop that participated in a Labor Day parade during the mid-90s threw bagels for spectators. Ms Laverty shuddered at the thought.
“I don’t think the Health Department would appreciate that,” she continued, laughing. “I don’t think people want to pick those up off the ground.
“Beads, yes; candy, yes,” she added. “Bagels, no.”
Applications are open for participating in this year’s parade. Additional information is available at newtownctlabordayparade.org. Ms Kopcik and Ms Roland can be reached at 475-444-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.