NYC's St. Patrick's Day Parade Postponed Amid Coronavirus Concerns

Rich Lamb
March 11, 2020 - 10:23 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- It's official — New York City's famed St. Patrick's Day Parade won't be happening next week.

In a statement issued late Wednesday night, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the parade committee has agreed to postpone this year's celebration over concerns about the coronavirus.

"Today I had several conversations with the organizers of the St. Patrick's Day Parade to determine whether the parade should move forward in light of the evolving coronavirus situation and increased case count in the New York City area," Cuomo said. "Following those conversations, 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."

"While I know the parade organizers did not make this decision lightly, public health experts agree that one of the most effective ways to contain the spread of the virus is to limit large gatherings and close contacts, and I applaud the parade's leadership for working cooperatively with us," he added. "While the risk to New Yorkers remains low and we want to avoid social and economic disruptions, we have an obligation to take action to contain the spread of this virus."

Sean Lane, Parade Committee Chair of the St. Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration Committee said, "We thank Governor Cuomo for his decisive leadership in this challenging time. We look forward to celebrating the 259th St. Patrick's Day Parade with the entire city of New York at a later date."

With Dublin, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia canceling their St. Patrick's Day parades over coronavirus concerns, many had been wondering whether New York City would be the next to pull the plug on its annual celebration, which dates back to 1762.

Each year, the event draws approximately 250,000 marchers and 2 million spectators to Manhattan and this year's parade, which was scheduled for next Tuesday, would have come at time when health officials are recommending reducing large public gatherings. 

"If you listen to the experts they would say you should not be having a St. Patrick's Day convening at this time which I believe makes sense," Cuomo said earlier in the day before the decision was made. 

In the morning, de Blasio told PIX11, "We have to really think about this one because it's obviously a beloved event, an important event. It's also an outdoor event, and outdoors in many ways is a better dynamic."

The mayor pointed to the well-attended breakfasts and the innumerable post-parade celebrations as a cause for worry.

"The part of the parade that leads to indoor gatherings I am very concerned about, that's for sure," de Blasio said. "This is a very special event so we want to not take it likely."

The total number of coronavirus cases in the city reached 46 on Wednesday.