Next year will be one of the biggest dates ever in the history of the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade with the 250th anniversary of the largest parade in the world.

Plans are already afoot to host the kind of celebration that will appropriately mark one of America’s oldest institutions.

Alas, right in the middle of those plans comes the crushing news from Mayor Michael Bloomberg that the parade will be cut back, starting in 2011.

The parade barely escaped this year’s cutbacks for all other public marches,  set to start April 1.

Police overtime and general economic conditions are said to be the reasons for the cutbacks.

But Mayor Bloomberg is making a major mistake by seeking to curtail the 2011 St. Patrick's Day parade.

There is unique pride in the March 17 parade, despite all its problems over the years. Next year was going to be the culmination of decades of effort to make the celebration a worldwide event.

However, Mayor Bloomberg is shooting those plans down before they are allowed to come to fruition.

He is making a major mistake (the message is clear for any number of politicians; mess with the St. Patrick's Day parade at your peril.)

Efforts over the years to modernize or change the parade have all come unstuck. The parade is a unique symbol of pride for generations of Irish that has endured.

Mayor Bloomberg may be about to learn all about that. This may be an uncharacteristic misstep by a man who has enjoyed high popularity in the Irish American community, but that may be about to change.