By Tim Pallesen
Get out the green confetti but not the green beer — the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a go for next year without alcohol.
Delray Beach commissioners have approved the March 15 event with a $31,273 cost for the promoter.
The fate of the 46th annual parade became uncertain last May when commissioners said they were being asked by downtown merchants to reduce the number of special events that close Atlantic Avenue.
An estimated 100,000 spectators watched this year’s March 16 parade, when the city waived enforcement of its law against open alcohol containers.
Responding to the merchant concerns, Mayor Cary Glickstein asked the city’s special events coordinator at a May 14 meeting to rank downtown events for elimination.
Assistant City Manager Bob Barcinski named the St. Patrick’s Day Parade first.
But Barcinski negotiated a compromise with parade promoter John Fischer that commissioners approved 4-0 at their Aug. 20 meeting.
Fischer agreed to pay $17,503 for city overtime costs so police officers can be added to enforce the alcohol ban.
“You’re going to need more police,” Glickstein told Fischer. “That’s critical as you move forward.”
The promoter also must pay $12,030 for steel barricades to be erected from Federal Highway to the city tennis center to prevent children from running into the street for candy and trinkets.
City officials haven’t decided whether to make arrests for drinking in public during the first year of the alcohol ban.
“We’re asking the police to take a light hand the first year,” parade consultant Bern Ryan told commissioners. “We’re requesting that you get to dump your drink in the trash.”
Ryan had warned after the May threat to discontinue the parade that the Irish in Palm Beach County would rise up to protest. “There will be a green storm,” he predicted at the time.
The parade in recent years has evolved into what Fischer, a county firefighter, described in his application as “a tribute to firefighers worldwide.”
More than 500 firefighters from Florida as well as New York City, Boston and two foreign countries marched in the parade last March. Twelve ladder trucks from Miami to Martin County hoisted giant banners along Atlantic Avenue proclaiming their hometowns.
Fischer wrote in his parade application that firefighters “march shoulder-to-shoulder with pride, honor, tradition, patriotism and teamwork as a role model for our children to see.”
Fischer could have avoided the $12,030 expense for barricades. But he said firefighters ignored his request to stop throwing candy and trinkets to children.
By Tim Pallesen