There was 150 pounds of lamb, five bushels of corn, 6 flats of tomatoes, 15 cases of beer and a couple of feet deep worth of political rhetoric as Republicans and Democrats made nice to each other at the 131st Crocodile Club luncheon at Lake Compounce Friday.
The annual event, a kind of pre-election bipartisan group hug now sponsored by the New England Carousel Museum, attracted about 200 people including a healthy handful of politicians like U.S. Rep Chris Murphy who is running for U.S. Senate and isn’t having a real good week.
While the media anxiously awaited his late arrival with questions about reports of a once-upon-a-time foreclosure and late rent payments, his opponent, Republican Linda McMahon breezed in at exactly noon with a smile on her face and renewed confidence about her chances of beating the veteran legislator.
“I think some serious issues have been raised,” said McMahon about the reports regarding Murphy and past financial problems. “I think he needs to set some records straight.”
Democrats including U.S. Sen. Dick Blumenthal, who like McMahon left before lunch was served (he, by the way, was celebrating his 25th year of attending the soiree), steered clear of the Murphy controversy. And as far as First Lady and Hartford Arts Council CEO Cathy Malloy and her reported rant in Charlotte earlier this week about the woes of public life and her s—-y car?
“I’m not going to comment,” he said.
The lunch was a traditional one, a meal that brought back good memories for Carrie Norton, whose late husband and former Bristol mayor Stretch Norton, had been honored just an hour earlier by the city. Norton, whose family established the Crocodile Club luncheon in the 1800s to “thank” legislators at the time, recalled the days when the political powwow was a “no women allowed” event.
Stretch, whose family owned the park until the mid 1980s, changed that, according to his widow.
“It was the mid 1960s and until then women had to meet downstairs while the men were up here,” she said as she waited for lunch in the park’s historic ballroom. “We belonged up here, too.”
Earlier Friday, a portion of roadway adjacent to the park on the Bristol/Southington line was renamed 1846 Stretch Norton Way in his honor and to mark the year the park actually opened
Emcee for the lunch was WTIC radio personality Ray Dunaway who spent the cocktail hour dreaming up political pokes and jokes for the program that included speeches by an array of politicians.
“There’s a lot to mine from out there,” he said as he surveyed the room. “This luncheon is the brief respite from the hatred that is sure to follow as the election season gets serious,” said Dunaway. “But for today we are going to keep it all in good spirit.”
For more pictures go to: http://cour.at/RBiK0O