St. Paul wants St. Patrick's Day parade on Saturdays only - KMSP-TV

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St. Paul wants St. Patrick's Day parade on Saturdays only

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

A big debate is brewing in St. Paul over a proposal that would break tradition regarding the annual St. Patrick's Day parade by moving it to the Saturday nearest the holiday instead of on the day itself.

In just four days, the streets of St. Paul will be packed for the yearly parade -- but next year could be quite different if the city has its way.

The parade day controversy has many St. Paul residents talking, pitting those who favor honoring the old tradition of same-day celebrations against others who say a Saturday event is just common sense.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman is pushing hard to have all the holiday hoopla take place on Saturday starting next year, but parade organizers are quick to point out the city doesn't pay to put on the event.

"The whole association goes out and sells buttons for $3," Dan O'Gara, owner of O'Gara's Bar and Grill, told Fox 9 News. "Those buttons pay for the whole parade -- street closures, the police enforcement, the bathrooms -- everything that it takes to put that parade on. Whatever money is left goes to local charities."

Yet, some business owners contend a Saturday parade would translate to more sales, and that is an argument that appears to resonate with Coleman. His letter explaining his support for a Saturday parade can be found in full below.

LETTER FROM ST. PAUL MAYOR CHRIS COLEMAN

Saint Paul has always been proud of its Irish heritage, and for as long as I can remember, Saint Paul's Saint Patrick's celebration has been one of the best in the country. As both Mayor and an Irishman, I am proud of this lively annual tribute to the city's Irish roots.

Our goal is to make this great event even better. The last two years demonstrated that when the Saint Patrick's Day parade has taken place on a Saturday, we reach higher levels of success toward our goals of maximizing accessibility and business vitality while minimizing disruption.

Without the need to take off from work or school, more families and children were able to take part in the celebration. Local restaurants and bars saw a significant leap in business. The city had more flexibility to close roads if needed with minimal disruption to residents and businesses. My office has heard overwhelming support of these Saturday parades. Because of this, I intend to work with the Saint Patrick's Association in partnership (including assistance with fundraising) to make sure next year's event is as successful as possible.

Make no mistake, Saint Patrick's Day is March 17 – that will never change. People will always come to Saint Paul on that day to celebrate, myself included, and this city will always be ready to receive them.

But by allowing the parade—a defining Saint Paul tradition—to be on a day when everyone can celebrate, we are creating an inclusive, family-friendly and business-boosting celebration in addition to our normal Saint Patrick's Day festivities.

For now, I am excited and focused on having a great Saint Patrick's celebration this coming Monday, and look forward to working with the Saint Patrick's Association moving forward.

Sincerely,

Christopher B. Coleman
Mayor

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