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Earlier Parade Hosts Smaller, Calmer Crowd

Police Chief Ed Ecker said no assaults or disorderly conduct arrests were made on Sunday, likely a result of a parade that started before trains came in from up west.

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.

Karin Gosman March 26, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Isn't this being sugar coated a bit?? The Amagansett DWI accident involved local young adults who attended the parade. Also, what you were trying to prevent also hurt. There was less attendance and participation. There are as many negatives comments being shared. Always good to try something new, but I'm not sure this was the answer.
Springs Mommy March 27, 2012 at 11:37 PM
And let's also not fail to mention that the parade started almost THIRTY minutes late... which is a long time to wait standing on the street with small (impatient) children on a cold March morning.
john smith April 02, 2012 at 03:00 AM
yeah and i heard that in the dwi the persons truck was covered under insurance...... how does someone that gets a dwi have there truck covered..... when i signed up for insurance i dont think they asked me if i wanted dwi insurance..... this wont be a lesson learned these young adults can do something stupid and get rewarded for it...this should have been on the front page if the parade is gonna do more harm then good then maybe there shouldnt be a parade. they are lucky they didnt seriously harm themselves or any innocent people around them.
Kayla Mclain April 02, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Having the parade start earlier only means more drunker people. These people in that accident on the stretch were seen intoxicated marching in the parade, why wasn't anything done? Why is this accident being kept hush-hush? This should be addressed in the papers, it should not matter if it will ruin the parades reputation. Do the papers not know about all the accidents that day? 2012 should be the last year for St. Patrick's Day Parade in Montauk.

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