WILKES-BARRE — With two weeks to go until its St. Patrick’s Day parade, the city isn’t rolling in the green to cover the $30,000 budgeted for the event.
Sponsors have come up with $19,000 for the 33rd annual parade as of Friday, said Drew McLaughlin, the city’s administrative coordinator. Sponsorships will be sought until the March 16 parade date.
There are no plans to cancel the parade if the full amount can’t be raised, McLaughlin said. The city will make up the balance out of its general fund.
“This is a huge day for downtown businesses,” he said.
An estimated 20,000 people attend the event and spend money in the downtown at businesses, restaurants and bars and with vendors. It’s also a time to show off and market what the city has to offer, McLaughlin said.
“We’re very proud that Wilkes-Barre’s parade is a family-friendly event,” he said. The city does not waive open container rules and allow drinking alcoholic beverages in public.
The money raised through solicitations pays for bands, sponsors each division and for city police, public works and emergency medical personnel. Police are on hand to close streets and direct traffic.
The city’s emergency medical services staff has to be fully staffed because of the crowd size. Public works bring up the rear to clean trash left by parade goers.
On paper, the sponsorships are marked down as revenue and disbursed to pay the parade’s expenses. “The largest expense is city personnel,” McLaughlin said. Much of it is overtime; but this year will be cheaper due to the parade date. “It is a Saturday,” he said, and the rate is at time and a half. If the parade was held on a Sunday, as in the past, the rate would be double time.
Still to be determined is whether a green line will be painted along the parade route. The cost would be covered by sponsors.
The parade starts at 2 p.m. at the intersection of South and South Main streets, travels on South Main to Public Square, around the Square toward the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, past the reviewing stand and onto North Main Street to the intersection with Union Street, where marchers fall out.