Great Scots! Tartan Day Parade First to Be Cut Short

Budget constraints rain on city's parades even in nice weather

By Jennifer Millman
|  Saturday, Apr 10, 2010  |  Updated 11:42 AM EDT
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It won't rain on the Tartan Parade today as throngs of Scots march down Sixth Avenue with their colorful kilts and blaring bagpipes, but the annual procession, hailed as "New York's biggest celebration for pipers, drummers, Scottish music and single malt whisky," will still be cut short.

On April 1, new rules were implemented that require all city parades to be 25 percent shorter and run for no more than five hours. The NYPD announced in late February that it didn't have the budget to sustain the hours-long majestic displays that can run for more than a dozen blocks throughout Manhattan. It takes too much manpower, they said.

And Saturday's Tartan Parade, which starts at 2 p.m. and traditionally runs 13 blocks from 45th St. to 58th St., is the first to bear the consequences of the NYPD's cash crunch. This year, the festival can only march for 10 blocks; it'll disband at 55th St.

A police spokesman says the new parade rules will keep the department from having to cut more important services, such as anti-terrorism and anti-crime units.

Chief NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told The New York Times cutting parades by 25 percent would save the city $3.1 million and 80 civilian jobs by trimming police overtime costs.

While some participants in the parade, which is far less known than most of the city's lavish displays, sarcastically remarked how "lucky" they were to be the first to cope with the cut, most took the news in stride.

"Everyone pretty much understood," Dennis Hagerty, Tartan Day's parade marshal, told the Times. "These are very unusual times."

The 12th annual Tartan Day Parade, which culminates Tartan Week, honors Scotland's proclamation of independence, among other historical events. About 2,000 pipers and drummers are expected to participate, along with armies of Scottie and Westie dogs.

If you're concerned that the new rules might make you miss Snoopy and some of the other Thanksgiving floats, don't worry.

A spokesman for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade told the Times the parade usually clocks in below two hours already.

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