New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s brief tenure as mayor has been filled with unorthodoxy— even when it comes to an almost 250-year old event.
De Blasio announced at a press conference on March 4 that he would continue his now two-year long boycott of the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
He cites the parade’s organizers, NBCUniversal, reluctance to allow LGBTQ groups to march in the parade as the cause of his absence from the event.
“I’ve made very clear that there needs to be more progress for me to march in the parade,” de Blasio said at the press conference, “so unless something changes, I’m not marching.”
De Blasio is the first mayor in over two decades to miss the parade and is one of the few city dignitaries who will not be present, causing backlash from the city’s longstanding Irish heritage.
“I’ve marched in the parade since I was eight years old,” said junior Patrick Roniger, “It just sucks when your mayor doesn’t support a 300-year old tradition.”
Roniger, who is the assistant to the lead piper in Manhattan College’s Pipes and Drums Club, will be marching with the band and the MC Gaelic Society in the Manhattan parade as they have for several years.
De Blasio’s boycott, however, has not had the impact he hoped it would. The Manhattan parade will still, undoubtedly, be the largest of the year.
“I think that it has really good intentions but there needs to be something more,” said senior Anthony Fischetti, “he’s boycotting the parade, but the parade is bigger.”
Fischetti, who is openly gay, also said that the parade is full of people who just want to enjoy the day and that de Blasio should instead put pressure on the major groups that are actually excluding LGBTQ groups from the parade.
“He has to take another step or else no other change will come about it,” he said.
“I recently went to Ireland and there are plenty of gay people there and they are all accepted,” said Roniger, “it’s just weird to see that Irish Americans are so different from Irish people.”
Despite the continued importance and popularity of the parade, de Blasio’s effort has not been entirely in vain.
In response to de Blasio’s boycott, NBCUniversal has allowed a group of LGBTQ employees to march in the parade this year but the mayor says that is simply not enough.
“I certainly applaud the progress this year compared to last, but because it is one narrow delegation, I don’t think it responds to the core concern,” said de Blasio on March 4, “I think a lot of other leaders feel the same way we do.”