Munere 'Mooney' Haddad crowned 2014 Cupid
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Willimantic - posted Tue., Feb. 18, 2014
In 1981, Al Saba was proclaimed Mr. Romantic Willimantic. WILI’s Wayne Norman was named the first Romantic Willimantic Cupid in 1982. Since then, it has become a tradition to honor a resident for contributions to the community on Valentine’s Day.
On Friday, Feb. 14, the meeting room at the Windham Town Hall slowly filled up, as visitors found parking along slushy, slippery city streets. Mayor Ernie Eldridge greeted arrivals at the door, passing out heart-shaped stickers. Eldridge’s attire included a t-shirt that he said had been given to him by his sister—“It’s a Mayor Thing; you wouldn’t understand” was emblazoned across the front. Eldridge’s red and white military-style jacket and tri-corn hat, he said, were inspired by Rochambeau, a French nobleman and soldier who passed through southeastern Connecticut during the Revolutionary War.
Eldridge himself is a past Willimantic Cupid (2007), as were all of the residents gathered at the front of the room, including Claire Meikle (1983), Jean de Smet (2003), Pam and Bob Horrocks (2006), Ernie Kuter (1998), Bruce John (2012), Faith Kenton (2011), Bev York (1999) and Karen Gilbransen (2013).
This year’s Cupid, Munere “Mooney” Haddad, was surprised to hear his name called. “They called me up and told me to get Bill Shea up here because he was the cupid,” said Haddad. Becoming emotional, Haddad sat down for a moment before taking up the microphone. “It’s quite an honor when I look at all of the people here who have received it before me,” he said.
Haddad was born in Willimantic in 1932 and spent the majority of his life there, except for several years spent in the service. After the service he returned to Willimantic, and in 1959 began to coach Little League. He coached players for 42 years (until 2001), and has 42 baseballs in his home office, all signed by members of his teams. “My greatest joy was coaching my young people,” he said.
Haddad is also one of the original organizers of BiggPlay (Baseball International Goodwill Games Promoting Learning and Advancement of Youth), an international goodwill baseball program which allows local children to travel around the world playing baseball. The program also allows the Willimantic area to host youth from other countries.
Asked about his first experience with athletics, Haddad recalled playing ball on Mountain Street. “That’s what we call sandlot baseball,” said Haddad. Looking ahead to the future of his town, Haddad was optimistic. “I see positive things for Willimantic… I’m sure we’re going to move forward… It’s all about the people,” he said.
Haddad was loaded up with the traditional Cupid paraphernalia, including a bow and arrow, a T-shirt, Cupid business cards, and a bouquet of flowers, which he passed on to his wife, Karen. “Where’s the million dollars?” he quipped, after accepting his official Cupid proclamation.