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Mayor Bloomberg Hears it From Parade Crowd Over Irish Joke

By DNAinfo Staff on March 17, 2011 4:47pm

By Jill Colvin

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MIDTOWN — St. Patrick’s Day Parade-goers greeted Mayor Michael Bloomberg with a less than warm welcome Thursday, booing and jeering him along the route.

Bloomberg offended some last month when he joked that he often sees intoxicated people "hanging out the windows" of the American Irish Historical Society on Fifth Avenue and East 80th Street.

"I was very offended," said Frank Conway, 28, who traveled from Philadelphia for the parade and booed the mayor as he passed. "The mayor said bad things about the Irish. We have a problem with that."

But the mayor tried to redeem himself Thursday, taking a trip back to the historical society after marching in the parade. The mayor spent about 20 minutes meeting with members and, at one point, went out on its balcony to wave to the street.

Speaking before the parade began, the mayor said that he typically receives warm receptions at city parades, despite reports that he was recently booed in Queens.

"The bottom line is that the reception I've gotten in St. Patrick's Day parades so far and this morning puts a smile on my face," he said.

And while many in the crowd did applaud and cheer as the mayor passed, others expressed their resentment about the comments as well as recent cutbacks, including threats of thousands of teacher layoffs.

"Boo! We don’t need you!" screamed one man from the crowd. "He’s got more money than God and he’s cutting money all over the place!"

"Save the teachers!" others yelled.

"Bloomberg, leave my pension alone!" shouted one.

Dan Buckley, 63, who lives in Long Island and has been coming to the parade for the past 50 years, described the mayor's comments on the Irish as "despicable" "stereotypical" and "wrong."

Michael Huvane, 54, who grew up in the Bronx, said he was also offended by the remarks.

"We’re proud to hang out the windows!” he said.

Others brought placards to protest the exclusions of openly gay, lesbian and transgendered groups from the parade. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn did not participate because of the policy, a spokeswoman said.

But there were also those who praised the mayor, shouting "Way to go Mayor Bloomberg!!" and "You’re doing a great job, Mike!" as he passed.

Brooklyn resident Kathleen McLaughlin, 76, said that she cheered the mayor as soon as she saw him.

"I said, 'Hurray Mayor Bloomberg!' I love him," she said. As for the joke? She said she thought it had been blown out of proportion.

"The Irish have a good sense of humor," she said.