The brawl that broke out in Albany just as the city’s 63rd annual St. Patrick’s Day parade broke up Saturday was nothing on the scale of the infamous “Kegs and Eggs” riot of 2011, but that’s little cause for relief.
An 18-year-old punching a cop is still serious, and the jump in DWI arrests that occurred over this “holiday” weekend also suggests that the problem with alcohol and St. Patrick’s Day is as bad as ever.
Scheduling UAlbany’s spring break to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day, in response to “Kegs and Eggs,” was a good idea, but there were still too many college-aged troublemakers getting drunk and creating mayhem last weekend. And not just at Saturday’s parade, though it’s pretty clear that an outdoor BYOB event like that fosters public drunkenness more than mere bar-hopping does. And when the two are combined, as they are on a typical St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Albany, it’s a recipe for trouble.
The city can’t stop people from drinking in bars, and though police can technically stop them from imbibing on the street, doing so would be practically impossible: They’d be so overmanned, it would lead to riots. So the city should just cancel the parade.
Why not? St. Patrick’s Day has lost its religious significance, if it ever had any. And why would it be acceptable to use public property for a religious celebration, anyway? Police and public works overtime from these festivities can’t be insignificant. And then there’s the public safety factor, with so many judgment-lacking drunks running amok.
Albany has done a decent job corralling drunkenness at public events like the Tulip Fest and Alive at Five, but it clearly can’t control parade attendees — up to 100,000 of them — from drinking at the parade; so it should cancel the parade.