BRISTOL – It wasn’t as smoky or as hot as it was in years past, but politicians on Tuesday brought humor and humility to the revived Crocodile Club at Lake Compounce after an eight year hiatus.
Celebrating its 129th year the Crocodile Club, which was started 1875 by businessman Gad Norton, welcomed back veteran politicians and many newcomers.
The annual luncheon kept with the tradition of handing out a beer and cigar to all in attendance.
The Crocodile Club, the nation’s oldest eating club, started out as a thank you for all the legislators who helped Norton change the boundary between Bristol and Southington.
Carolyn Norton, whose husband’s great grandfather was Gad Norton, said the town line was modified so their property was part of Bristol, instead of Southington. She said the annual luncheon was to show his appreciation and over the years evolved into a bipartisan invite-only event.
Louise DeMars, executive director of the New England Carousel Museum, said Norton’s husband J. Harwood “Stretch” Norton; a former Bristol mayor was no longer able to carry on the tradition in 2002 and then died a year ago. She said she was persistent in seeing if the Norton family was willing to resurrect the gathering as a fundraiser for the museum.
The invitation-list had been lost during the eight year hiatus, so event organizers decided to start from scratch and open it to the public.
What didn’t change though was the menu, which included lamb, fried corn, and sweet potatoes. According to some regulars it tasted just as delicious as they remembered.
Fred Morrocco, who used to work at Lake Compounce and helped prepare the fried corn in years past by racking it over a piece of sheet metal on an open pit, said “it’s excellent.”
This year’s speaking program was hosted by WTIC-AM’s Ray Dunaway, who introduced the politicians and threatened to ring a bell if they went over their five-minute time allotment. And despite the nasty political nature of this year’s elections, the event focused mostly on the lighthearted side of politics and tradition.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal was one of the few “Crocodilians” who had previously attended the event and was first to speak Tuesday.
“I just have to tell you that I’m here without subpoenas,” Blumenthal said, drawing laughter in keeping with the casual and less political tone of the event.
“I noticed a few of you were not laughing,” he said.
“When I left my house today I told my wife, Cynthia, I was coming here and that I was going to be funny,” Blumenthal continued. “She started to laugh.”
He ended his remarks by saying he’s traveled the state and visited many places, but has never been invited to a professional wrestling match.
“I thought for sure I’d get an invitation this year, but oh well it’s really not my cup of tea anyway,” Blumenthal quipped referring to one of McMahon’s campaign commercials.
Click the play arrow above to see Blumenthal’s attempt at comedy.
Blumenthal was followed by his Republican opponent Linda McMahon, who told him he doesn’t have to be invited to a WWE event, he just needs to purchase a ticket.
The room filled with applause.
McMahon introduced herself to the crowd and suggested “some” of them may have seen her mailers.
“But contrary to popular opinion, I’m not really running for Postmaster General,” McMahon quipped.
Click the play arrow above to watch McMahon’s comedy.
Joining Blumenthal and McMahon in humor and humility was gubernatorial candidates Dan Malloy and Tom Foley and their running mates state Comptroller Nancy Wyman and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.