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Later Start for 2013 St. Pat's Parade

Montauk Friends of Erin struggle to balance business needs and family-friendly atmosphere, but next year parade date may prove to be an issue.

Still reeling from the festivities surrounding the St. , the are already thinking ahead to next year.

Last week, the group decided on a date and time for 2013: April 7 at 11 a.m.

Don't let the April date confuse you. The Friends of Erin parade is typically held on the Sunday after St. Patrick's Day, but March 17, 2013 falls on a Sunday. Palm Sunday is the following week, and then it's Easter Sunday.

"We're not going to have the parade during Holy Week," said Joseph Bloecker, the president of the Friends of Erin, which organizes the parade.

The start time is an hour later than the most recent parade, but it is still earlier than the parade has been held traditionally.

Bloecker said the group is trying to find a balance; they want affected the bottom line, though they have tried to weed out unruly crowds, underaged drinkers and bar fights.

"There's just no easy solution," Bloecker said, adding 11 is a compromise of sorts.

The crowd that turned out this year was . Bloecker said it was successful in that there were no arrests of a violent nature. Parades in years past have seen as many as 35,000 people and dozens of calls for fights.

However, from an economic standpoint, . The surveyed businesses about the early start time after the March 25 parade and the majority said business was negatively affected, according to Laraine Creegan, the chamber's executive director.

"We need the businesses to know we understand it wasn't as busy as it could have been," Bloecker said. "Part of it was because of the time, part of it was because of the weather," he said referring to the cold, dreary day.

The Montauk businesses help support the parade. Bloecker estimated they donate a little more than half of the $30,000 to $35,000 it costs to put on the parade. The rest comes from fundraisers.

Creegan said the business community would like to see the parade go back to an early afternoon start time, though she understands that without the cooperation of the Long Island Rail Road that may not be possible.

The chamber, the Friends of Erin, and the sat in on four meetings with railroad officials before the 2012 parade in an attempt to divert trains, which typically bring a younger contingent, from arriving in time for or during the parade. The meetings yielded little results.

"The thing now is dealing with the date," Creegan said looking ahead to April 7. "But, we understand nothing can be done about that."

Bloecker is hopeful that the later date next year will actually bring a bigger crowd, despite the earlier start time, as the weather will be nice and some colleges are on spring break. He said the Friends continue to work on developing plans to fight under-aged drinking and the associate problems.

Ken Walles April 28, 2012 at 12:06 PM
As a prelude to St. Pats Day, why not consider the sunday before the NY parade ?? Drifting too far from the actual holiday seems to dilute the celebration. Yes it may be a bit cooler but it can also be milder. Just have more Hot Chowder and Hot Coco on hand.
Jill G April 28, 2012 at 01:04 PM
I agree With Ken. - Also what's wrong with a Satiurday? The one before Palm Sunday? Would help the hotels out too.
Lisa DeVeglio April 28, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I agree with Ken and Jill. Also bring the time back ti 1:00 and enforce the laws you have in place. I have been at the parade many times and witnessed outright underage drunkeness and seen police just walk by. Arrest a few of tose kids and you will set the tone. The earier start was horrible for my business on a weekend where you look to make money to get you through the next few weeks. Lisa
Dana Kalbacher April 28, 2012 at 03:08 PM
I just don't get a St Patricks Day Parade in April at all..I agree with Lisa. Why can't "anything be done about the date" ? It's an important weekend for Montauk business. I hope it can be worked out..
Jeff Miller April 28, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I think the Saturday before Palm Sunday is an excellent idea. Pushing it into April is defeating the purpose of the holiday. Why not just make it an Easter Parade? I think more consideration should be put into the choice of dates. I think the fact that multiple people have commented on this and nobody believes this to be a wise choice should be proof positive that further research is necessary
Bruce April 28, 2012 at 09:42 PM
I do not attend this event anymore for the simple reason of the drunks it attracts. You want families to attend? Crack down hard on the unwelcomed troublemakers. Until they clean up their act, you won't see my children and I near Montauk. They want to drink, fine, do it in the taverns, not curbside. Also these type of people are not contributing anything to the local economy the shopkeepers hope for, except to the local bar owners. Return it to a family event, and as close to St. Patrick's day as possible. The cold never bothered me when I attended for over ten years.
Taylor K. Vecsey (Editor) April 28, 2012 at 11:52 PM
I just spoke further with Mr. Bloecker after the comments above and wanted to add the following: With Palm Sunday on March 24, 2013 and Easter Sunday on March 31, 2013, Rocky Point and Westhampton will be holding their parades the weekend before Palm Sunday (March 16 & 17) and Hampton Bays will likely do theirs on March 23. The same bagpipers play in all these same parades, which is one of the reasons they can't all be on the same days. Plus, Bloecker said, if the Montauk parade were to be held on the Saturday before Palm Sunday that would they couldn't hold the cocktail party at Gurney's Inn (which is always on the Saturday before the parade), which raises about half of what the parade costs. He wants to reiterate that more the Friends thought about this for about a month before setting the parade for April 7.
Springs Advocate April 29, 2012 at 03:08 AM
I understand the dilema and I know Joe has taken alot of time and effort to think this through (as Joe always does.) I agree there is "no easy Solution" Joe I don't like the idea of such a popular event conseeding and taking a back seat to Rocky Point and Hampton Bays. but April and St. Patricks day just do not mesh. If a few of the bands have to choose then so be it we can live with that. That being said I'll be there no matter when the parade is to lend my full support as always to the Friends of Erin.

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