Police say they will aggressively pursue family-friendly atmosphere.
This story was written by Jeff Lipton.
City officials are hopeful
Saturday’s Irish Day festivities will be more “family-friendly” in the wake of
a host of complaints from West End residents about the annual event.
“We will have very strict
enforcement of the code and laws,” said Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman.
Since this is his first Irish Day
event, Schnirman said he has “listened to detailed accounts” of the day’s
activities, including viewing video of the event.
“I have reviewed all of the concerns
and we take them very seriously," he said. "Police will aggressively seek to maintain a
Sgt. Eric Cregeen, a Long Beach
Police Department spokesman, tried to alleviate residents’ concerns by assuring
“we will have a full complement of officers on patrol. It’s an
all-hands-on-deck situation. We will also have extra DWI patrols.”
Police Commissioner Michael Tangney
has met with West End bar owners on several occasions and the bars are
offsetting the cost of the police overtime, he added.
Bernie Petty, Irish Day Parade
Chairman for the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the organization that has sponsored
the event for 23 years, said the city’s business owners have raised about
$25,000 for police overtime.
The bar owners have also agreed to
start closing at 1 a.m. for Irish Day with all patrons expected to be out by 2
The parade is also slated to start
an hour earlier, at 11 a.m. instead of the traditional 12 noon, and West Beech
Street will also be reopened an hour earlier at 5 p.m. The change in times is
expected to help with crowd control by dispersing the crowds earlier, officials
Wisconsin Street resident Richard
Papetti said organizers have taken “some minor steps” to alleviate concerns of
“A lot of it is just lewd behavior,”
Papetti said. “It’s gotten worse over the last seven years and the crowds keep
multiplying. Hopefully, this is a step in the right direction.
“The message out there is: ‘Be nice
or don’t come,’” Papetti added.
West End residents suggested earlier
to have organizers move the parade to the East End, or have it
scrapped altogether for 2012, given the disorderly behavior and the city’s
Petty said the Hibernians created
the Irish Day parade and festival more than 20 years ago “to help the bars and
restaurants get through the winter season.”
He said the Hibernians had to act
quickly because they were notified five weeks before the parade “by the city
manager’s office that there were several issues that needed to be resolved.”
That led to the changes, which meant they had to alter their posters, letters
and flyers advertising the event. He said they begin planning the event in May.
“If changes need to be made, I feel
changes should be made,” Petty said. “If people don’t know how to act
accordingly and respect people and their houses in the West End, they need not
come to the festival.”
He said that next year the
Hibernians will explore all options which best behooves their organization,
residents of the West End and Long Beach bar and business owners.
“Everybody is willing to step up,”
he noted. “A lot of people are willing to do whatever it takes to preserve it
as a family-friendly atmosphere, and to maintain that is our goal. We’re
looking closely at keeping it a positive experience for everybody.”
This year’s parade grand marshal is
Veronica Danca, the principal of Long Beach Catholic Regional School.* This story was updated at 5 p.m. 10.4.12.Make sure to “Like” Long Beach Patch on Facebook.
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