9 Reasons The Mayor’s Letter To Newport Bars Has Us Scratching Our Head

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It’s fine for the City to encourage restraint on Parade Day, but there are better ways to do it.

In letters dated March 5th and sent to Newport liquor license holders, Newport mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano requested that Newport establishments refrain from selling alcohol before the kickoff of the Parade at 11 am.

Dear Liquor License Holder:
I am writing to ask your assistance in helping to ensure that this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a family friendly event. As you know, this parade draws thousands of visitors to Newport and I want to make sure that visitors and residents alike are able to enjoy the parade in a safe and respectful atmosphere. Unfortunately, there have been times when families and other parade viewers are forced to listen to and observe the inappropriate behavior of individuals, turning what should be an enjoyable family event into an uncomfortable experience.
In order to reduce excessive drinking and rowdiness, the City encourages establishments to refrain from serving alcohol prior to 11 a.m. on parade day. This coincides with the official step off of the parade and I think you will agree this is a reasonable time to begin bar service.
Please help us make the 59th St. Patrick’s Day Parade a success by contributing to a family friendly environment on March 14th. If you have any questions or if there is anything my office can do to assist you please feel free to contact me.
Jeanne-Marie Napolitano

The reaction of restaurant owners and employees has run the gamut from “WTF?!?” to “Not legally binding? See you at 8am!” to “*shrug* Yeah, she used to send those out the last time she was mayor too.”

There are ten things about this whole thing that we don’t get.

1. Timing

March 5th? Since New Years Day, there have been two things on the Newport hospitality industry’s collective mind: Snow removal and Parade Day. If you ever try to sell local businesses on anything in January or February, “Talk to me after Parade Day” is a common refrain. If this was a serious effort on the part of the mayor, such a letter should have gone out in January, before bars and restaurants had been advertising their Parade Day breakfast buffets and Bloody Mary bars for a month.

Likewise, most of Newport’s larger restaurants had to put in a lot of time and effort into scheduling their staffs for this “All Hands On Deck” day. To just fire off a letter and ask everyone to make a quick U-turn with the schedules of hundreds of Newport’s workers is a tad out-of-touch.

2. A Letter?

We’re guessing that a large part of the intent behind this whole thing is an effort to placate the “No Fun For Anyone Ever” constituency of voters, but why not just fire off a Letter To The Editor to the Daily News and be done with it? That way the people who like to read that kind of thing will read it and industry folk will be able to carry on, none the wiser.

3. It’s Anti-Broadway

Broadway is continuing on its truly excellent revival and most of its bars and restaurants have managed to maintain a regular crowd through the worst of this winter, but they need the infusion of cash as much as downtown. The problem for any bar north of Pour Judgement is that a majority of the people they serve are the police officers, firemen, musicians and such who are actually in the parade, having a couple drinks before they march down Thames. Then once the tail of the parade swings around Washington Square, the crowd follows, never to be seen again. To ask those businesses to wait until the Parade kicks off is to ask those businesses to forgo any financial benefit from an event that is bringing a lot of money to town.

4. It’s Anti-Marcher

As mentioned above, a lot of the revelers having a few morning brews are the ones who are actually in the parade. This year, if the weather forecast holds, they’ll be taking that stroll from Town Hall to the judging booth in the rain. Now, someone might be able to convince the members of, say, whichever fire department that they shouldn’t have anything to drink before the parade on the grounds that some people might get out of hand, but we have no idea who that is.

Reasons 5-9 coming right up…


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