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De Blasio 30 Minutes Late to Rockaway St. Patrick's Day Parade

By Katie Honan | March 7, 2015 7:06pm | Updated on March 9, 2015 9:04am
De Blasio 30 Minutes Late to Rockaway St. Patrick's Day Parade
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

ROCKAWAY PARK — The notoriously-tardy Mayor Bill de Blasio arrived half an hour after he was scheduled to show up at Saturday's 40th annual Rockaway St. Patrick's Day Parade.

He blamed the lateness on internal  meetings — then faced jeers and boos along the route once he finally caught up.

The mayor's public schedule said he would arrive at the parade's start at Beach 129th Street in Belle Harbor at 1 p.m., but the event stepped off without him at its scheduled time of 1:10 p.m. He didn't attend last year, saying it wasn't "inclusive." 

Volunteers marched while holding a banner bearing de Blasio's name from Beach 129th to Beach 117th without the mayor present, prompting many along the route to ask "Where's the mayor?" 

 Volunteers marched with de Blasio's banner without the mayor present. He arrived half an hour late to the parade.
Volunteers marched with de Blasio's banner without the mayor present. He arrived half an hour late to the parade.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

Other politicians —  including Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Tish James, City Councilman Eric Ulrich and grand marshals — marched along with the parade committee, and had arrived prior to the start.
 
The mayor finally caught up with the parade at Beach 117th Street at 1:30 p.m., half an hour after he was scheduled to arrive. His SUVs "sped" the wrong way up the residential side street to let him out on Newport Avenue, according to a resident of the street and other witnesses.

The street was closed to traffic. The mayor's office did not immediately respond to an email for comment.

De Blasio later told reporters he traveled by NYPD boat, which he took when he arrived late for the Flight 587 memorial on the peninsula on Nov. 12, 2014.

The boat docked three miles away at the Coast Guard station in Roxbury, and left Manhattan at 12:35 p.m, according to the mayor's spokesman.  

"With each parade we handle it differently depending on when we can get to it," de Blasio said. 

"We had some meetings at Gracie Mansion, it took a while, some stuff we had to do, and we came up as soon as possible after that."

After de Blasio joined the marchers, he stopped for photos with firefighters, sanitation workers and some locals, making his way to the viewing stand on Beach 105th Street.

Along the route, though, he was met with a mix of boos and a stretch of Beach 116th Street where viewers stayed silent. The issues ran the gamut from lack of support for the NYPD and the Rockaway ferry, which isn't scheduled to return until 2017.

Kathleen McMullen, 69, who has lived in Rockaway her entire life, yelled, "Go back to Brooklyn!" and said she had concerns about the direction the mayor is taking the city.

The mayor later brushed off the criticism.

"Welcome to New York City," he said when asked about his reception. 

"People in our city have strong views on everything, and certainly that's true in the Rockaways as well."

He also defended his plans for the peninsula, which includes a five-borough ferry plan that is set to roll out in 2017.

"If we're going to seriously talk about transportation issues, we have made very clear that there will be permanent ferry service in the Rockaways as part of a citywide ferry system. That is a solution, that is a long-term solution," he said, and also pointed to various economic plans including affordable housing.

"I'm not surprised when anyone wants to fixate on little moments and controversies."