The St. Brendan’s Day Irish Parade and Festival, which attracts thousands of visitors to the West End each year, was nearly canceled last month amid an outcry from residents who say they have had enough of the drunken revelers that cause trouble long after the parade ends and after city officials said that Long Beach could no longer assume all of the costs associated with the event.
But the city reached an agreement with the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which organizes the parade and festival, and the Historic West End Business Association, so Saturday’s event will go on, albeit with scaled-back hours. Businesses will start closing at 1 a.m. on Sunday this year instead of 4 a.m., while the parade will begin an hour earlier on Saturday, at 11 a.m., in order to help the Police Department clear the streets earlier.
Additionally, a number of businesses are paying the city a total of $25,000 to help cover police and sanitation overtime costs. As a result of the concessions, City Manager Jack Schnirman said that the event is expected to cost the city approximately $60,000 this year, a significant reduction in the amount spent in past years, when costs had climbed to more than $100,000.*
“It’s a start,” Schnirman said. “[With] things closing earlier, we’re hopeful that it will prevent the problems that went on later in the evening, and we’re going to clear the street earlier. We’re also going to start clearing out the bars at 1 a.m. to prevent some of the biggest problems that you’ve seen in the past. After this year, we’ll have a look, see how it went and discuss how to go forward.”
Earlier this year, West End residents called on the city to address issues that arise after the parade. “Between the concerns that we heard from residents about the impact on the community … and obviously the financial aspect, it was a lot to swim through,” Schnirman said. “But we’re happy that we were able to work it out with the AOH.”