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One door closes, others open

It was with sadness that we heard that the Yulan St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Grand Marshall’s Brunch will not be held this year. Apparently, the drunk and disorderly element got to be too much for the local residents, and the 36-year tradition has come to an end.

We don’t want to second-guess the people of Yulan as to their decision; after all, they’re the ones who have to suffer the consequences when the behavior of parade attendees gets out of line. But there is no doubt that there are some measurable benefits being lost. Can anything be done to replace them?

The first major benefit was the kind of social cohesion that strong local traditions always inspire. In its heyday, the parade was more than just an opportunity to get plastered. It was a family-oriented event that brought people together joyously and celebrated the community. But apparently, in recent years a lot of that close-knit, family-fun element got lost as the crowds got too big and too anonymous and the drinking became a goal rather than a complement. One element contributing to that decline was probably the loss over the years of several fine Yulan restaurants, such as the Colonial and the Rustic, hospitable community venues where festival-goers could make the rounds socializing, listening to live entertainment and enjoying the St. Patrick’s Day specials.

Just as significant is the economic loss. Local businesses typically prospered from the event, which brought hundreds of people to town. In fact, all over our area festivals like this have proved to be a significant boon to local economies, from EagleFest in Narrowsburg and the Tractor Parade in Callicoon on the New York side of the river, to Honesdale’s Harvest Fest and Heritage Days and Hawley’s Winterfest in Pennsylvania. And such festivals help mark the towns that host them with an identity that stays with tourists far beyond the day or days on which they occur.

So is all lost for the Town of Highland? Not necessarily. As the old adage has it, when one door closes, another opens. Two relatively new festivals in the town have been gaining altitude over the past few years, both in Barryville: October’s Pumpkinfest, an event that started in 2002 which drew over 2,000 people last year; and the Mid-Winter Warmup. The latter, now in its fourth year, is coming up on Thursday, March 5. So perhaps the torch of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is being handed on in a different form.

But what about the hamlet of Yulan? We think there’s an opening for it as well. We concede that the inherent nature of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, which traditionally involve a lot of alcohol, might make it difficult to preserve this particular heritage or restore its original uplifting tone. But it would be too bad if the townspeople were to waste their undoubted expertise at creating a joyous community event. Perhaps, they could invent a whole new festival based on a different cause for celebration, if possible at the same time of year, when we could use an economic lift.

Honesdale in Pennsylvania has found a way to do just that, and plans to celebrate Mardi Gras on Saturday, February 21 in what it intends to become an annual tradition. It has organized groups called “krewes,” as they are known in New Orleans, to contrive mini-floats that can parade on the sidewalks throughout the day, using vehicles as diverse as baby carriages and wheelbarrows.

Or, if the rowdiness typically associated with Mardi Gras strikes Yulan residents as too perilously close to the St. Patrick’s Day chug-fest, how about some type of vernal equinox event?

Annual town festivals like the erstwhile Yulan St. Patrick’s Day Parade are good for the pocketbooks of our local communities and—as long as they don’t get rowdy and out of hand—good for their hearts. Yulanites obviously know how to throw one heck of a good party, and we would love to see them find another cause for celebration that would recover the small-town spirit that once characterized the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

In the meantime, those looking for a quieter way to mark St. Patrick’s Day can still do so at the Yulan Fire Department’s corned beef and cabbage dinner on Saturday, March 14. Other communities, like Beach Lake on Sunday, March 15, also plan dinners—monitor our “Where and When” pages. And for those seeking other ways to fill the hole left in their calendars by the defunct Yulan St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the upcoming events listed below might help fill in the void.

Late-winter community festivals*

Mardi Gras on Main

Saturday, February 21 in downtown Honesdale, PA from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Mid Winter Warmup

Thursday, March 5 in Barryville, NY from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m.

Wurtsboro Winter Fest

Saturday, March 7 at the Wurtsboro Airport in Wurtsboro, NY from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

*Not intended to be an exhaustive list. If you know of one we missed, let us know so we can inform our other readers.

Also in this issue:

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Dr. Punnybone

The Long and Short of It

Letters to the Editor

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Letters are printed at the discretion of the editor. It is requested they be limited to 300 words; correspondents may be asked to cut longer letters. Deadline is 1:00 p.m. on Monday.

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An alternative proposal for the library

To the editor:

Has anyone heard from our very lifelike Pike County Commissioners regarding the library problem? It is, after all, a county library, and they have the power, acting on behalf of the people of Pike County, to provide almost instantaneously a perfect building for the library—namely the Old Milford School, which is centrally located, with parking, across from the post office and with a pizza parlor (and liquor license) downstairs.

They might, for example, make the current owner a great offer, make sure he comes away with a nice chunk of money, and throw in the proposed site for the new building. Everyone would be happy. Problem solved. But first they have to be found to be actually among the living.

Tony Splendora

Milford, PA

More than one side to Gillibrand

To the editor: