Chief Ed Ecker said on Monday that attendance at Sunday's checked in at roughly two-third of last year's parade - if that - and while the number of overall arrests dropped off slightly, and DWI arrests were way up, a void of disorderly conduct and assault bookings indicate that this year's crowd was a much calmer bunch.
The Annual Friends of Erin St. Patrick's Day Parade drew an estimated 30,000 to 35,000 last year. Ecker estimated 20,000 came Sunday on an overcast, relatively bitter day, which started two hours earlier than in previous years.
With the earlier start - 10 a.m. compared to the norm of noon - trains coming from out west to Montauk arrived roughly 45 minutes after the parade kicked off.
"A big part of that was we weren't having to deal with so many underage kids that come in on the train," Ecker said.
In total, Ecker said 17 arrests were made, and 20 ordinance summonses were written. .
Joseph Bloecker, president of the Friends of Erin, said he noticed a better behaved - albeit, a smaller - crowd as well. A more family-friendly environment was the group's biggest motive for changing the parade time.
"We had some issues with the crowd - or the lack of a crowd - because of the weather and earlier start time," he said, pointing to the drop in attendance. "But we had success with what we wanted to do with the start time. We had no problem with kids coming off the train."
According to the Long Island Rail Road press office, 721 passengers made the trek out to Montauk via the LIRR on Sunday. Ecker said about 5,000 did last year.
"We had no felony arrests, and no violent arrests," Bloecker said. "So [the change in start time] affected the people we wanted it to affect. In the past, we'd have kids - some not even old enough to drive - come in off the train, and since they're not in their hometown they'd do whatever they want because there's nobody here to tell their parents."
As a result of a calmer crowd, Ecker said police working the parade - which numbered over 100 between foot and squad car patrols - were able to focus more on keeping the roads safe. Eight of the 17 arrests were DWIs, Ecker said, compared to one last year.
"We didn't have to deal with kids fighting in the street so we were able to actively enforce that type of stuff," Ecker said.
The chief noted that two alleged drunk drivers, in separate incidents in Amagansett and Wainscott, were flown to Stony Brook University Medical Center and treated for non-life threatening injuries after getting in car crashes.