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Luck Runs Out for St. Patrick's Parade Extension

By Murray Weiss | March 8, 2011 2:03pm
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly  and Mayor Michael Bloomberg march up Fifth Avenue in the St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 17, 2007.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg march up Fifth Avenue in the St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 17, 2007.
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Michael Nagle/Getty Images

By Murray Weiss

DNAinfo Contributing Columnist

The luck of the Irish ran out two blocks short.

The city has denied a request by St. Patrick's Day Parade organizers to allow the 250th anniversary march to go two extra blocks, which would have allowed revelers to pass the American Irish Historical Society’s Fifth Avenue headquarters.

That’s the fine place that Mayor Michael Bloomberg "joked" was home to drunks "hanging out the window" during the parade every year.

"Normally when I walk by this building there are a bunch of people that are totally inebriated hanging out the window, I know that a stereotype about the Irish, but nevertheless we Jews around the corner think this," Bloomberg said in early February.

Parade organizers had asked for the change following the decision last year by the city and the NYPD to shorten all parades by 25 percent and to cut festivities to five hours to save millions of dollars on cops and overtime.

Last year, the parade was exempt from the new rules because NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who was also the grand marshal, said there was not enough time for organizers to alter their long-planned event and shorten the parade to East 79th Street instead of the traditional finish line of East 86th Street.

In recent months, parade organizers again asked for yet one more dispensation that would allow the parade to go as far as 81st Street, which is just past the society’s headquarters on East 80th Street. It was, after all, the 250th anniversary of the parade.

The request put Kelly and Bloomberg between a shamrock and hard place.

Kelly all-but-swore last year there would be no more exceptions. Any change would be greeted with howls that he is not playing fair.

And the problem was as bad for Bloomberg, who would suffer worse than a hangover as reaction from the organizers of other ethnic parades if he were to give another break to the Irish to smooth things over after the "inebriated" comment.

So the city has said Erin No Go.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said the parade would run only from East 44th Street to East 79th Street. No dispensation.

"The reductions of this and the other parade routes was made to save $3.1 million in overtime estimated that would otherwise have been spent on the parades during fiscal April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011," Browne said.