Changes coming to Old Neighborhood parade

Posted at 11:55 PM, Mar 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-03 15:12:28-05

Instructor Mary Kay Heneghan is preparing her Irish dancers for a Buffalo tradition.

“Well we’re so excited because it’s our time of year, like it’s a holiday meant for us,” Heneghan.

In just a matter of days, her dancers will be dressed to the nines celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with thousands of Buffalonians in the “Old Neighborhood’ parade.

“The history of the Old Ward is so interesting especially with all the Irish that immigrated and all the industry that immigrated there so it’s really nice to go back to the old ward and see it reviving again,” Heneghan said.

But this year’s neighborhood parade will be a bit different than previous years.

When the parade steps off from the Valley Community Center it will proceed down Hamburg onto South Street. Participants will then finish the parade at the intersection of South and Louisiana instead of South and O’Connell.

Another big change? No goodies including beads or candy will be thrown to those watching from the sidelines.

Parade organizers took to Facebook explaining why the parade route was changed.

The post by the Valley Community Center says spectators and residents were complaining and participants were not wanting to take part in the event because of drunken kids jumping over barriers, urinating in the streets, fighting, and being disorderly.

The post continues to explain that the new route will accommodate the growing parade and the decision to prohibit throwing candy is to keep the children at the parade safe.

But for Heneghan, a long time parade participant, the changes are actually a welcomed site. Heneghan says she supports any decision that is designed to keep children safe and as for unruly crowds? She says in her experience, the crowds have been nothing but supportive and welcoming.

“Oh my gosh they are so excited,” she told 7 Eyewitness News. “They are excited to have people who don’t normally come down to that community come down there and see how much its grown and improved and its really become a destination.”