Atlantic City to miss St. Patrick’s Day parade for a 4th year. Blame the boardwalk.

Atlantic City parade

The Sandpipers Atlantic City Pipes and Drums march down the boardwalk during the St. Patrick's Day parade in Atlantic City, Saturday, March 12, 2016. (Jesse Bair | For NJ Advance Media) SJNSJN


Atlantic City is not having a St. Patrick’s Day parade for a fourth consecutive year amid structural concerns with the city’s iconic boardwalk.

While the first two cancellations were due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the boardwalk’s condition prompted the city to propose an alternative route last year that parade organizers rejected, citing additional costs and logistical hurdles.

The Atlantic City St. Patrick’s Day Committee has not submitted an application to hold a parade this March, a city spokesperson said.

“We would be open to holding a St. Patrick’s Day parade next year, or again down the line, if interest is expressed,” said the spokesperson, Andrew Kramer.

Atlantic City’s parade was first held in 1986.

Two parade organizers contacted by NJ Advance Media acknowledged that the city’s boardwalk, dating to 1870 and the oldest in the nation, is in need of significant work.

John Exadaktilos, owner of the Ducktown Tavern, said there are numerous “soft spots” posing a hazard to visitors. Debris caught fire under the boardwalk Friday night, damaging a section that would have been used during the parade, he added.

“It’s over one hundred years old,” Exadaktilos said of the boardwalk, one of New Jersey’s best-known tourism draws.

“This problem is nothing that’s new. It’s something that’s been known about for many years,” Exadaktilos said.

There is no set timeframe for upgrading the boardwalk, Kramer said.

“We hope to have the structural concerns fixed in the near future ... but they do remain intact at this time as we seek additional funding to resolve the issues,” Kramer said.

Atlantic City parade

Atlantic City St. Patrick's Day parade, Saturday, March 9, 2019.Tim Hawk | NJ Advance Media for

Parade organizers, though, have remained unreceptive to a proposal from Atlantic City in 2022 allowing the parade to proceed by limiting the route to the first half of the boardwalk.

“We had offered parade organizers an option to divert the parade route from the midway point in the boardwalk into the streets and continue to Albany Avenue,” Kramer said.

However, regaining full use of the boardwalk is crucial for the parade’s success, said Jon Henderson, an organizer.

“You’d have to do street closures, which would then entail additional expenses,” Henderson said.

Local businesses and other organizations that, in prior years, paid $3,500 for floats prefer the visibility of an all-boardwalk parade, Henderson said.

Without using the boardwalk for the full way, “it’s only half the parade it used to be,” Henderson said.

“We talk about it a lot, but until we can go down the entire boardwalk, we’re not even going to entertain it,” Henderson said of resuming the parade.

It might also be challenging reviving the parade after such an extended absence. Of nearly two dozen St. Patrick’s Day parades surveyed last year by NJ Advance Media, only two — in Atlantic City and Newton — did not proceed in 2022.

Newton’s parade is returning next month.

Organizers of the Atlantic City parade, in announcing its cancellation last year, cited problems with the boardwalk but also acknowledged a “lack of participant interest.”

Exadaktilos said he is optimistic the parade will return and that the state will offer funding toward repairing the boardwalk.

“It’s historical. It’s a great draw for our tourists, our joggers, just our basic walkers. It’s a shame. Unfortunately, they need to fix that boardwalk,” he said.

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