About 34 seconds after we reported Friday evening that the Greenville Avenue St. Patrick's Day parade was on life support, reader Julie C left the first of 93 comments, and she spoke for plenty of those who followed: "NO NO NO! I live for this every year!"
As the news spread, livers across the city trembled at the idea of a parade-less St. Patrick's Day, and reporters at TV stations and The News alike were dispatched to follow up on the Case of the Dying Parade. (I'm sure they were thrilled.)
Many of our commenters asked about making donations to save the parade. The organizers have responded, launching this FundRazr campaign to collect the $40,000 that the Greenville Avenue Area Business Association says it needs to cover the rising cost of off-duty cops, barricades and other expenses.
And it's not just parade-goers who are being asked to pony up. It's also the bars and restaurants that, if you believe GAABA, do their biggest business of the year because of the parade.
On display below is a letter to business owners pleading for their help. It's signed by Jorge Levy, the owner of Desperados and the president of GAABA, and Kevin Thornburg, the publisher of this newspaper and the owner of hair so wavy that after seeing it you invariably find yourself Googling "Baja California surf camp excursion."
The letter asks for $1,000 from every business along the parade route. GAABA made a similar pitch last year, after the city raised prices and the Observer pulled out of the event to focus on its St. Patrick's Day concert. (Our marketing folks say that the Observer covered the cost of the parade from 1997 to 2010, when it neared $70,000. Last year it topped $80,000, and this year, with the city calling for more cops and more barricades, it's expected to near six figures.)
Tony Todora, owner of ParkIt Market, told me last week that last year's fundraising effort seemed disorganized. He was happy to pitch in, he said, and he would be happy to do the same this year -- but not without assurances that everyone else will do the same.
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I'm told the Observer's sales and marketing team will be following up this week in an effort to make that happen. Because, as I mentioned last week, while we're no longer involved in the parade, happy bar owners make for happy Observer salespeople.