Oh. My. God. The worst news in the history of news just landed in my inbox. They are killing the Greenville Avenue St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Here’s a note from the Lower Greenville Neighborhood Association to its members:
Preparations for this year’s event are generally the same as last year with one very notable exception. Dallas Police have decided to begin enforcing the Open Container law this year. Although they are doing this mainly in response to problems with retail operators outside the event, they will be giving all the officers the same direction on enforcing it, even in the neighborhood. The law is pretty simple. Any open containers should 18 feet away from a public right-of-way. That means 18 feet inside the sidewalk. They will write citations and the fine is $250. In the past, they would simply ask to pour it out. You may carry CLOSED containers without being in violation. So if you are carrying an ice chest to your neighbors house, you are ok as long as the contents are unopened.
I have written before about my love of this event. It is, in my estimation, the best day to be alive in Dallas every year. Part of the reason for that is its the one day of the year that cops let thousands of people walk around and drink beer. Suddenly, in a small way, Dallas becomes Vegas. And New Orleans. Do some people abuse the privilege? Of course. But, on the whole, the laissez faireness of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade makes for a special day. I mean, how can you have a St. Patrick’s Day parade without people tailgating?
This is a tragedy.
Update (9:29 a.m.): Hang on. I called DPD to beg them to reconsider. The folks in media relations had not heard anything about this supposed change in policy. As the officer told me, “There’s a hundred of us and a million of you. We couldn’t enforce that ban if we wanted to.” But that’s not the official response. He’s checking and will call back with confirmation one way or the other. We still have hope.
Update (11:55 a.m.): Here is the official word from Senior Cpl. Jonathan Crump, a Dallas Police Department spokesman who will himself be working the parade: yes, this year they will be “a little more strict” on open containers. But this is not a zero-tolerance policy. “You can be three sheets to the wind,” Crump says. “But if you don’t present a problem for me, you’ll be going home that night. If you present a problem for me, you won’t be going home.” Meaning, you’ll be going to jail. “It’s all about your attitude,” Crump says. Bottom line: if you’re walking down the street with a drink and not bothering anyone, it sounds like you’ve got nothing to worry about. So, everyone, let’s have fun Saturday. And let’s behave out there (for the most part).