Making up for two boycotted years, Mayor Bill de Blasio bookended his first of
two three marches in todays St. Patrick’s Day Parade with two gaggles. He spoke with a large group of press before marching, focusing on the Parade’s opening this year to LGBT groups marching under their own names and banners. After marching he again spoke with the press, focusing on the recently reported federal investigation into lead paint conditions in New York City Public Housing.
de Blasio began with a statement lauding the opening of the parade to LGBT groups, calling it a powerful and very moving day in New York City. Four of the five questions concerned the change in parade policy, including whether his boycott brought about the change, whether it’s a sign that discrimination has been abolished in the parade and what it means politically for the City. A final question focused on de Blasio’s announcement that he plans to close the “Campaign For One New York”, an outside advocacy organization he created upon taking office.
Mayor de Blasio returned to the press after marching, giving a statement on the recently revealed federal investigation into lead paint in NYCHA housing and NYCHA’s federal reporting on lead paint conditions. de Blasio emphasized the preliminary nature of his information on the investigation, but pointed out that New York City has long had stringent laws on abating lead paint and a resulting longterm NYCHA effort on abatement. Other question topics included the use of police officers in place of school crossing guards, Governor Cuomo’s announcement that he will appoint an outside management expert to examine CUNY and Mayor Dinkins’ 1991 hostile St. Patrick’s Day Parade reception.
On his initial march, with the NYPD, Mayor de Blasio inspired minimal reaction from the large crowd, receiving a polite reception with modest applause and little heckling or boos audible over the sounds of the NYPD’s marching band. de Blasio’s second trip up Fifth was not disclosed in advance to the press and I did not join him for that march. His third trip was the centerpiece of his day at the Parade, joining the Green & Lavender Alliance as the Parade fully opened to LGBT groups after years of bitter resistance. The Alliance was near the end of the Parade’s line of march and Fifth Avenue was gray and largely deserted as they made their way up. The few remaining spectators greeted the Alliance and the Mayor with repeated rounds of applause, however.