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NYC's St. Patrick's Day Parade postponed over coronavirus fears

The St. Patrick's Day Parade, held annually in

The St. Patrick's Day Parade, held annually in Manhattan since 1762, has been postponed. Credit: Todd Maisel

This year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City has been postponed over fears that allowing the 258-year-old tradition to go on could spread the coronavirus, according to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office.

Sports matches, conventions, television shows, even a meeting about coronavirus also have been canceled as the pandemic sweeps the globe, with 118,326 diagnoses and 4,292 deaths.

The Manhattan parade, which goes up Fifth Avenue, has been held every year since 1762, according to the parade website. Other cities that have called off their St. Patrick’s Day parades because of the coronavirus include Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Dallas. Even Dublin canceled its parade over COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

Cuomo's office announced the postponement late Wednesday night.

In a statement sent by the governor's office, Cuomo said: "I recommended and the parade's leadership agreed to postpone this year's parade due to the high density and the large volume of marchers and spectators who attend." 

The parade draws about 250,000 marchers and 1 to 2 million spectators, Cuomo's office said.

A statement sent from Cuomo's office from Sean Lane, parade committee chairman, said the parade would be held at a later date but did not specify when. 

The Ancient Order of Hibernians in the New York area said in statement Wednesday night that the group was disappointed by the postponement of the March 17 parade, which has important economic consequences, but understood the need to be cautious.

"We certainly appreciate that people’s health is concern Number One, and that the decision to postpone the March 17 parade must have been a difficult one," said the statement from country's oldest Irish Catholic fraternal organization. "It is nonetheless important to take note of the economic consequences, as many Irish American small businesses are barely hanging on and the parade is an important event for them. Many cultural non-profits, traditional musicians, Irish dance schools and pipe bands use funds from St. Patrick's Day shows to sustain them." 

The possibility that the parade might be canceled first arose on Tuesday, when Cuomo said it was being considered. Mayor Bill de Blasio said later that day no decision had been made, but on Wednesday he said he had “real concerns” about the parade progressing. On Wednesday, Cuomo said canceling the parade "makes sense to me," although the governor wouldn't say who would make the decision to call it off.

With Michael Gormley

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