Organizers could see record numbers, police prep for safety as St. Patrick's Day Parade draws near

By NICOLE HART

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - It will be a sea of green in the City of Utica on Saturday morning for the annual St. Patrick's Day parade down Genesee Street, with many festivities that will carry over to Utica's Varick Street and bar scene.

Both Genesee Street and Varick Street will be shut down for the celebration and police are asking that you do not park on Genesee Street from Eagle Street, northbound, to Columbia Street.

Executive Director of the Great American Irish Festival Matt Sullivan says that recent years have brought roughly 30,000-40,000 people for the annual St. Patrick's Day event. Weather pending, Sullivan says he believes the city could see even more for the 2012 event.

Also, since the Saint Patrick's Day parade is a family event, there will be no alcohol permitted along the parade route, along with no coolers, backpacks, bottles or cans being allowed on Varick Street.

Police say these rules are nothing new and they will be enforced.

"We've always been tough with having alcohol on the parade route," said Sgt. Steve Hauck of the Utica Police. "But, we know there's people there with kids and unfortunately, alcohol sometimes brings out the worst in people. So it's something that we ask. Hold off for a couple of hours until you get to where all of the bars are, where it's all adults, that way you're not imposing on any families or any children."

Last year, Utica Police made a total of 16 arrests, many of which were DWIs, Sgt Hauck said. Although he was not able to discuss the exact number of police that would be onhand for the festivities, he did say the amount would be approximately four times the normal amount of officers you would see on a regular Saturday.

All bars on Varick Street will be closing at 6 p.m. on St. Patrick's Day. Police officials say they have seen safer results on St. Patrick's Day by having all the street's bars close early that day.

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