A Staggering Blow


For nine years, Irish Day has been the biggest party-in-the-streets day in Long Beach. West End roads would close to traffic. Bars and delis would sell food and drinks curbside. The local Ancient Order of Hibernians would organize a parade and fundraiser. But Long Beach has cut into the fun by actually enforcing its ban on drinking alcohol on the streets of the party route.

By the end of the long day Saturday, partygoers had noticed a difference. Last year, there was a cooler on every corner, recalled Nancy, who had spent part of the festivities at FAT PHIL’S. This year, she said, bouncers played the heavies and made people spill their drinks before heading outside. Some risked a violation and drank anyway. One 28-year-old woman said the goods were in red cups. “Juice bottles,” joked Nancy, who’s 33. As a Queens girl, she said it was likely that “fascist Giuliani” was having an impact even out here where he doesn’t belong.

In times like these, it’s easy to look to Rudy. After all, he extinguished the fireworks at Chinese New Year celebrations. And he didn’t change his policy even when the Chinese community lined up a licensed pyrotechnics firm and required insurance coverage, a fire truck and an ambulance.

But don’t blame Rudy for a meeker Long Beach. Behind much of the protest against the bars in Long Beach is John White, president of the West End Neighbors Civic Association.

On Friday, he shook a finger at Budweiser and Coors reps who hung company banners outside. “They take this area and make it shanty town,” said White. On Saturday, he said, when he noticed people drinking out of cups, he went to the police. “I went to two or three policemen and asked them to enforce the law and one of the them just walked away from me,” he said. He claimed he reported the insubordinate cop to a lieutenant. “They said they were going to go out and talk to the policeman.”

Numerous patrol cars cruising around didn’t kill the spirit, though. Long, orderly lines formed outside of the Saloon, the Inn and Minnesota’s. Inside the less crowded Fat Phil’s, one couple did its own version of the hustle. In the backyard, a bartender wearing green ribbons in her hair laughed as a group of stragglers debated who had the best grilled chicken sandwich: McDonald’s, Burger King or Wendy’s. On Irish Day such talk was perfectly understandable.

Fat Phil’s 832 W Beech St, Long Beach, 516-432-9091.