For 4th Year in a Row, Atlantic City, NJ, Cancels St. Patrick’s Parade
Most of New Jersey's St. Patrick's Day parades are less than a month away except for one that will be sidelined for a fourth year in a row.
The Atlantic City parade, which usually marches along the boardwalk, will not step off for the fourth year in a row because of two factors: the condition of the 152-year-old structure and financial considerations, according to John Exadaktilos, vice president of the Atlantic City, Saint Patrick's parade committee.
The parade, a tradition since 1986, was canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of COVID-19 restrictions. With the restrictions lifted in 2022, the parade was still a no-go because of a lack of financial support.
"There's a substantial amount of money that it costs to be involved in the parade. On top of that we have two years of not having fundraisers," Exadaktilos told us. "We had deals with a liquor company and they dropped out."
Exadaktilos said that some of the parade's participants are paid to march which costs between $7,000 and $8,000. A part of the parade proceeds benefits education funding.
Concern about the Boardwalk
The ability of the boardwalk to support the vehicles and the large crowd was also a concern.
"The city hasn't been in a good financial situation and the boardwalk structurally is not safe and the engineers have cut weight significantly with the vehicles that proceed on the boardwalk and also the length of how far we go," Exadaktilos said.
He said the boardwalk has been neglected by the city and state, according to Exadaktilos.
"It's the first boardwalk in the world and it's the last one on everyone's mind in the world. It's entirely embarrassing because a lot of tourists use it, a lot of athletes use it and a lot of staff use it so they don't have to deal with automobile traffic," Exadaktilos said.
A fire on Feb.3 that burned a section of the boardwalk was not a factor in the decision to cancel.
Going off the Boardwalk?
Exadaktilos said moving the parade off the Boardwalk was rejected by the city because of security concerns.
"The city will not allow us to go up and down the streets. We've asked to use Pacific Avenue and were shot down twice. We don't have enough police officers to endure the crowd control that we bring," Exadaktilos said.
During the State of the City address on Jan. 12, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver said that Murphy has appropriated $100 million that shore communities can apply for to be used on boardwalk repairs.
"I know we'll have to be fair in the distribution of those funds but I am known to put my thumb on the scale," Oliver said.
Mayor Marty joked during his portion of the speech he is counting on the lieutenant governor to come through as she plans to retire to Atlantic City when her term is up in 2025.
"She has a reason to make sure that we get $100 million," Small said.
Exadaktilos is skeptical of whether or not the money will actually make it to the city, calling Atlantic City the state's "red-headed stepchild."
"This town supports a lot of the state's initiatives for whatever. If they just gave back 15% of what we give them or let us hold it and designate it for day-to-day infrastructure you couldn't touch this town. It would be the best. We'd be better than New York. Better than Vegas."
A spokesman for the City of Atlantic City on Monday morning did not respond to our request for more information.