Stopping abusive behavior at St.Patrick's Parades can be done -- New York and Chicago parades point the way forward
By: Patrick Roberts | Published Sunday, January 15, 2012, 9:00 AM | Updated Sunday, January 15, 2012, 9:00 AM
Drinking and the St.Patrick's Day parade go hand in hand, whether we like to acknowledge that or not.
In the past few days, the Hoboken parade, one of the largest in New Jersey, has been canceled while the South Side St.Patrick's Parade in Chicago is being held again after an absence of a couple of years
In both parades, the abuse of alcohol was a major issue.
However, how that alcohol use is managed and controlled by both parade organizers and law enforcement is critical.
Clearly, the Hoboken parade and its aftermath had grown out of control. There were 34 lawless incidents and two alleged rapes last year. That is simply not good enough.
Hoboken suffered from its proximity to Manhattan as thousands of revellers took the opportunity to cross the river and have their first spring break.
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I remember seeing some of them in Penn Station after a day there, very much the worse for wear.
However, Mayor Dawn Zimmer has hardly helped the situation by making a farcical offer to hold the parade on a Wednesday evening before St.Patrick's Day.
The parade committee rightly turned that ridiculous offer down.
There is a solution and New York's St.Patricks Day parade shows the way forward.
A few years back they had similar problems along the parade route and afterwards.
They installed a ruthless system that punished any violator and worked with the police department to greatly beef up security.
It has proven successful and the parade nowadays is an enjoyable experience for everyone.
Judging by the South Side of Chicago organizer's comments they intend doing the same.
That's is how it should be, the parade organizers and local police working hand in glove to ensure there is space and opportunity for everyone to enjoy.
Instead of adopting such an approach, Hoboken's mayor made an ill-judged call.
I hope in the future we see Hoboken's parade restored to its rightful place. Using Chicago and New York, as examples that could surely be accomplished.