O’Boo-berg Jeered At Parade
Stepping off from Beach 129 Street and surrounded by his security detail, political backers and parade officials, Bloomberg almost immediately began to hear jeers and catcalls.
“Get out of Rockaway and go back to Manhattan, where you belong,” yelled one local woman.
“Take the A-Train and see what we face each day,” yelled a man across Newport Avenue at Beach 130 Street.
“Better yet, take a bicycle,” a third yelled to the laughs of the crowd. “We have lots of useless bicycle lanes.” “Watch out,” yelled a man at Beach 127 Street. “All the Irish drunks are here today.”
“It’s a good thing it didn’t snow this week,” yelled yet another paradewatcher. “You wouldn’t be able to walk here.”
“Save our teachers and get rid of the bureaucrats,” became the chant at Beach 125 Street. The crowd picked up the chant, “Save our teachers. Save our teachers.”
Another chant, “Don’t cut public pensions, leave the civil service laws alone,” came just blocks later.
For his part, Bloomberg kept walking, waving an Irish flag at both sides of the avenue and smiling.
Some in the crowd told reporters from the daily papers that Rockaway residents had lots of reasons to be angry with the mayor, including his perceived attacks on union workers and the civil service laws in a community with many city workers and retirees; his failure to plow the peninsula after the massive Christmas blizzard last year; his offhand remarks last month about drunk Irishmen celebrating St. Patrick’s Day; his attack on the seniority system and, perhaps the last straw, his order shortening the parade this year in order to save overtime costs.
Because of those issues, the mayor’s walk was punctuated along the peninsula with catcalls, jeers, chanting and even an occasional rude finger gesture.
Bloomberg put a positive spin on the booing to Adam Lisberg, writing in the Daily News.
“I got an enormously warm welcome from the people of Rockaway,” he said. “There were a handful of people who expressed themselves, but if you looked to the side you’d see one person yelling and 10 or 15 giving you the thumbs up and saying, don’t worry about it, just keep going.”
“If you go back to the smoking ban days, there were a lot of one-finger waves in those days,” the mayor added. “Today, you get very few.”
Locals say that the parade would have been even more awkward for Bloomberg had UFT political director Paul Egan, one of those honored by the parade committee, shown up and marched alongside the mayor.
Egan, who made recent headlines for being thrown out of an Albany restaurant for complaining about the size of his meal, was a no-show.
Thousands lined the parade route, cheering for the marching units made up mostly of local kids, volunteer fire units, city workers and pipe bands.
This year, the parade ended at Beach 102 Street rather than Beach 95 Street and the officials’ reviewing stand was set up at Beach 105 Street.