The St. Patrick’s Shakedown

There must be a Gaelic word for chutzpah because some Irish certainly have a lot of it. How else to explain this letter in today’s Press & Sun-Bulletin, which I quote in its entirely?

Hats off to the Ancient Order of Hibernians Parade Committee for conducting the 47th Annual St. Patrick’s Parade in Binghamton on March 1.

Most people who enjoy the parade are not aware that the costs of the parade are covered by the Parade Committee. This is accomplished by fundraisers, such as Boscov’s Irish Day, the party following at Seton Catholic Central High School and the revenue from our annual ad booklet. Local businesses, Catholic churches, organizations and the Irish community are asked to sponsor an ad for this booklet priced from $35 to $100. These books are then distributed throughout the community. To those who have supported us in the past, we thank you.

However, there are many bars in the area that do a tremendous business on Parade Day who do not support our ad booklet. To those businesses, I pose the following question: What would your business be like the first Saturday of March if there were no parade?

Brian Murphy

Vice President, Ancient Order of Hibernians Parade Committee

Mr. Murphy begins be patting himself on the back so we know right away that he has a rather exaggerated opinion of himself. Then he goes on to claim that the Ancient Order of Hibernians bears the entire cost of the annual debauchery in honor of a saint who probably never existed. That, of course, is a lie. Period. We taxpayers of Binghamton and Broome County pay thousands of dollars for police overtime and DWI checkpoints during the parade and its drunken aftermath. And we pay to clean up the mess left behind.

But then he tops even himself by essentially shaking down the bars along the parade route who he claims do a “tremendous business” on Parade Day. What about the stores that are completely blocked for hours? Do the Hibernians compensate them for lost business, not mention damages from the drunken louts crowding the street? I think not.

Now there is nothing wrong with a day of drunkenness after three months of grey skies and snow. If there were no St. Patrick’s Day someone would no doubt come up with another excuse for a late-winter party. But it is just wrong for a vocal minority group to demand funds from local businesses to support their self-congratulatory bacchanal (there must be a Gael word for that too). Mr. Murphy owes the community in general, and the bar owners along Court and Main Streets an apology for his tirade. And the Ancient Order of Hibernians needs to find a more fit spokesperson.  

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