Won't somebody think of the children! New York's St. Patrick's Day parade should be moved to Saturday - traditions are not always right.
Let me put forward a suggestion that will definitely be shot down, but I’ll do it anyway.
Move the New York City St. Patrick's Day parade permanently to the Saturday closest to the date.
As it is the march will be on Saturday for 2019 as St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday, and on Tuesday in 2020 due to the leap year. That is lucky because it avoids the worst day to have a parade which is Monday.
It seems to me permanently marching on a Saturday is a better scenario.
Yes, I can already see the slings and arrows heading in my direction and talk about tradition and the battle parade organizers won only a few years ago to keep it on the day itself after business groups lobbied to move it to the weekend.
But traditions are not always right. Barring gays was a tradition; so was stopping motorized mobility vehicles (remember the old organizers tried to stop the late NYPD hero cop Steven McDonald one year in his wheelchair.)
Now we have an enlightened group running the parade that has embraced change.
So let me explain.
The parade benefits greatly from being on Saturday especially with the people who count the most -- the kids.
It was obvious from the sidewalks in New York City on Saturday that more kids than ever made it to the parade because they don’t go to school on Saturdays. It was a wonderful site to behold for this veteran parade-goer.
With emigration from Ireland practically dead, the need to involve the smartphone generation in Irish activities has never been greater.
Saturday allows vast numbers who would normally be working on weekdays to come to the parade. Many bring families which means more kids.
I can’t tell you the number of Irish Americans who have told me that it was the New York City parade that sparked their interest in their heritage.
I know the tradition is there that we march on the day, but ease of movement in terms of trains and subways also counts for a lot. It allows people to attend and opportunities for kids to come and experience their culture for the first time.
All that ranks higher in my estimation than tradition.
There is one more blisteringly obvious advantage too. Sunday is a day of rest, one where hangovers can be soothed and late nights slept off.
There is also the sad reality that many of the great county organizations that march are on their last legs literally with smaller representations each year.
How to fill that gap? We can only reach out to the younger generations and show them how great and fun our culture is. Perhaps they can be enticed into Irish organizations that way.
Profound change does happen. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar marching with his gay partner on Saturday in New York was a somersault for this parade which only five years ago banned LGBT groups. One can only imagine former parade chairman hardliner Frankie Beirne turning in his grave.
Now the Irish community must change or die with the emigrant boats docked back home.
It will be up to Irish Americans to keep the flame alive, and the future is with the next generation.
Let them come and see all we have to offer. There is nowhere better than on Fifth Avenue in March, with the pipes piping, the drums drumming and an ageless tradition going back to 1762 renewed every year.