The AOH and business owners said that they learned about the city’s intention to cancel the parade five weeks ago. According to Tom Corning, co-owner of Minnesota’s, “It was over.”
Beach House owner Ben Freiser, vice president of the Historic West End Business Association, said that the AOH and businesses had already spent thousands of dollars preparing for the event. The AOH had named Veronica Danca, principal of Long Beach Catholic Regional School, as the parade’s grand marshal. Many said that five weeks was hardly enough time to incorporate all of the changes that were being suggested.
“[The city] asked that we team up to address and alleviate a number of issues,” Freiser said. “It’s not like we can just cancel bands that were booked already … we have a lot of risks and a lot of overhead. But we wanted to make sure we keep Irish Day in the city. I’m a West End resident as well … and we have a lot of the same issues that [residents] are concerned about. It shows good faith on our part.”
West End Neighbors Civic Association President Rick Hoffman said that he believes the AOH, business owners and the city reached a “workable” compromise. “It’s imperative that the parade stays in the West End,” Hoffman said. “From the changes that were made this year, this will be a good platform to work from moving forward.”
In addition to assuming a portion of the event’s costs, Freiser and others said they are beefing up security and will announce last call earlier.
“… [I]t will be a safer environment with the agreement that bars will begin closing at 1 a.m. with a controlled exit,” Police Commissioner Mike Tangney said in a statement. “This cooperation will substantially reduce the cost of police overtime.”
But Papetti was not alone in predicting that the changes will have little, if any, impact. “From what we understand, they really have not addressed the quality-of-life concerns we brought to them,” he said. “Changing the parade time suggests that crowds would leave earlier, but people still come after the parade to drink. I don’t see that diminishing the crowds.”
“This is still going to cost the city plenty,” Blessinger said. “I do feel as though [the city] did not consider the residents’ quality-of-life issues when they made their final decision.”