SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's favorite green event took a financial hit after Salt Lake City presented organizers with a big bill. The St. Patrick's Day Parade will go on, but public donations are still needed.
City officials said the bill is to help pay for the extra police needed for the St. Patrick's Day Parade, but organizers said the $4,000 bill came as a surprise to them.
"Don't Tax St. Pat's" That's the slogan Utah's Hibernian Society posted on its Facebook page after being slapped with a $4,000 bill for Saturday morning's St. Patrick's Day Parade.
"It came as a total surprise, out of the blue." said Dick O'Connor, President of the Hibernian Society.
He said Salt Lake City needs the extra money to help pay for security.
"They started out with an $8,000 bill, and then we negotiated and they helped us get it down to about $4,000 by not having as many officers to patrol, and to stand on the street corners blocking traffic," he said.
Lara Kathleen Jones, spokeswoman for the Salt Lake City Police Department, said they’ve helped keep costs down.
“This year we've worked with the parade organizers to balance security and affordability,” she said. “We will have 20 officers working traffic control. That means closing various intersections along the parade route.”
The parade route starts at 200 North and 400 West and winds its way through the Gateway Mall.
Art Raymond, deputy director of communications for Salt Lake City mayor Ralph Becker, said, despite the initial confusion over the new cost, the city sent a letter to the parade's organizers informing them about the change.
"We've worked very closely with them,” he said. “I know representatives from police have met the group to ensure that they could minimize their costs by providing just the minimum amount of police service to endure safe diversion of traffic. We hope we have that worked out with them."
O'Connor said they were able to find a pot of gold for this year's parade, which is bigger and better than ever. Expect a sea of green and more than 20,000 Utahns taking part in what the Irish call "siamsa", a tradition that began in Salt Lake City 36 years ago.
"It started with four guys sitting together over a pint, and they said, ‘Let’s have a parade,’ and they started walking down the streets,” he said. “Little while later, cops were stopping them and directing traffic around them to continue their parade."
Siamsa means partying in Irish.