In an effort to make the event more family-friendly and welcoming to people of all ages, the 50th annual will .
While the goal is hard to argue with, many in the business community are uneasy that the change will bring with it a drop in sales that usually provides a welcome boost during a slow, early spring season.
“No one in the chamber is happy about it,” said Laraine Creegan, the executive director of the Montauk Chamber of Commerce. She added that while the chamber opposed the time change, the organization would continue to work to help make the 50th anniversary parade the best it could be.
Joseph Bloecker, the head of the Friends of Erin, says that starting the parade two hours earlier than the traditional noon kickoff will likely act as a deterrent to the droves of drunks who have sullied the reputation of an otherwise family-friendly event in years past.
Last year, ranging from DWI to public urination. Twenty four town ordinance violations were also issued as the parade attracted an estimated 35,000 people to Montauk.
Among business owners and service workers, the Montauk’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is viewed with morbid anticipation – the swells of drunken revelers are a rude shock to a sleeping hamlet’s system, but also a crucial turning point after months of sluggish sales.
“It’s a shot in the arm for the community,” said Mickey Valcich, who will walk the green line as Grand Marshal on Sunday.
But with the first train due to arrive in Montauk 45 minutes after the start of the parade, and two more arriving after it is finished, business owners and service workers are beset with worries over whether fewer customers, raucously intoxicated or not, will turn a day normally seen as a boost into a bust.
“Everybody is pissed off. We’re not going to make any money,” said Colin “Hollywood” Pines, a bartender and waiter who has worked at The Shagwong for years.
Among service employees like Mr. Pines, the expectation seems to be that the drinking the parade is famed for will continue through the morning – resulting in a flock of already-intoxicated patrons descending on establishments who are legally obliged not to serve alcohol until noon.
But Mr. Bloecker is banking on the drunk train contingent giving up on the parade altogether, with an early turnout of families and locals that will stick around to spend a bit o green.
“Without the kids off the train, people will feel more free to walk around and enjoy Montauk,” he said. “Overall, the big picture, it’s not going to affect the motels. I don’t think it’s going to affect the bar restaurant trade very much. “
Still, some business owners have gone into strategy mode to try to salvage as much revenue as they can.
“I’m not going to make anything on breakfast,” said Ray Cappiello, who runs a Sunday morning breakfast buffet at Manucci’s in Montauk Harbor.
Normally opening for dinner at 5 p.m., Mr. Cappiello said he would open his bar at noon and begin serving dinner at 2 p.m. this year, in hopes of making up some of the difference.