It's official, the FDNY is back in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Savannah. General Chairman of the parade committee, Brendan Sheehan, along with Mike Dodd of the Savannah Professional Firefighters Local 574 officially announced what WTOC once again first reported Tuesday afternoon.
The Savannah Firefighters will host the New York City Firefighters next weekend for St. Patrick's Day festivities.
FDNY representatives we spoke to were thrilled and appreciative, ready to march with 25 to 30 of NYC's finest in tow. They were also ready to follow the rules.
In 10 days, with the clock ticking down and a denial letter mailed out last week, it was some quick work over the last few days and a huge assist from the Savannah Professional Firefighters union working with the parade committee to get the deal done, including frequent calls back and forth to New York City.
Sheehan says the denial was not directed at the FDNY but the group they were associated with, so parade committee members reached out to the Savannah firefighters who have hosted out of town firefighters in the past and agreed, gladly, to take the FDNY in and march with them behind Savannah's banner.
"Absolutely," Dodd told WTOC. "Every year we try to accommodate firefighters from out of town, but to extend the hand to New York is an honor and I spoke to Carl (Graziano, FDNY) this morning and he said it was an honor to be walking with us as well."
The FDNY is back in, but the 189th edition of the parade is shorter, leaner and parade officials hope safer.
Last year, 363 units and four hours long, Sheehan admits the parade drew some criticism from city and law enforcement officials who were concerned with traffic and public safety.
The request was made to cut the parade down in size for 2013.
"They asked. They didn't demand. They just asked," Sheehan told WTOC.
The parade committee general chairman says with a focus on streamlining the Saturday parade, not everyone could make the cut after hundreds of applications had to be dwindled down to just a little more than 300 to make sure the parade runs smoother. Last year saw a few mishaps, an unfortunate death, and the ending of the parade ran head on with the beginning of the festival, causing traffic nightmares downtown.
While other units who applied have complained to WTOC about being denied entry into the 2013 edition of the parade, Sheehan says there's always next year.
"Not everyone will apply again next year because it is middle of the week, but everyone is welcome to reapply next year and every year, they are welcome to reapply," Sheehan said. "We get so many applications. If we allowed everyone who applied into the parade, we wouldn't be finished. We wouldn't be finished until the 17th."
As a reminder, the unit selections are made by the St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee, which is a private organization, not affiliated with the city of Savannah. The city of Savannah does not select who marches in the parade.
Wednesday, May 22 2013 11:46 PM EDT2013-05-23 03:46:56 GMT
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