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Thursday, March 6, 2003



New city rules crimp
St. Patrick’s parade


By Mary Adamski
madamski@starbulletin.com

The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick can't wait until March 17 for the wearing of the green.

They learned last week they need to come up with more than $3,000 in greenbacks to meet increased city-mandated costs for their annual St. Patrick's Day parade through Waikiki.

At first, the island Irishmen were seeing red because a city street usage division clerk told the group's vice president, Kevin Kelly, that their ethnic celebration is not recognized as a cultural event and thus does not qualify for city financial help. But tempers cooled yesterday after city Deputy Managing Director Malcolm Tom responded to Kelly's letter to Mayor Jeremy Harris -- a regular parade participant -- saying that, as of this year, the city will no longer pick up the tab for police support and traffic control barricades and signs for any ethnic group's celebration.

"Everyone was in an uproar," said Kelly. "I'm very upset about the comment ... because it comes in a place where a person's culture is richly accepted. The Irish are not as visible as the nationalities who came to Hawaii in large groups and built communities together. The Irish came as individuals and worked hard to become leaders in business and government."

The parade, which cost $500 last year, may cost as much as $5,000, he said.

The group has been notified that they would have to pay for signage, to the tune of about $3,000. On Friday, Kelly learned that the group would also have to pay the cost of hiring 34 police officers, another $1,600.

"We're just a nonprofit organization," said Kelly, and its financial focus is funding six college scholarships to the tune of $8,000 a year.

Some of the Friendly Sons were ready to cancel the 36th annual parade, said Kelly. About 1,000 people are set to participate, including mainland school band members and chaperones who have already bought airline tickets.

Kelly's letter asked the mayor to have the city bear the cost of police special-duty officers as it has in the past. "I feel we were ambushed" because the cost was not made clear earlier.

City spokeswoman Carol Costa said: "It's the reality of the budget cuts. The city has had to tell a lot of groups that it can no longer waive fees." She said other organizations have found sponsors, and "the mayor hopes they will find an angel out there."

The Irish do believe in luck ... and angels, said Kelly. He can be reached at 383-4481.



The Friendly Sons of St. Patricks
City & County of Honolulu



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