This year’s New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade is being postponed from stepping off March 17 in response to the coronavirus threat.
It is the first postponement in the parade’s long history, dating to 1762.
The decision to delay the 259th annual parade was made in consideration of the “high density and the large volume of spectators who attend,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement last night.
The parade, the world’s largest, attracts up to 2 million spectators and tens of thousands of marchers to Fifth Avenue.
Cardinal Dolan will serve as the principal celebrant at the annual St. Patrick's Day Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which will still take place as planned at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17.
The Mass honors St. Patrick, the patron saint of the Archdiocese of New York and of the cathedral that bears his name.
This year’s Mass will also be dedicated to praying for those who are suffering from the coronavirus as well as for doctors, nurses, caregivers and all those working to combat the disease.
In light of the postponement of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and mindful of the advice from medical experts, attendance at this year’s Mass will be limited to the members of the 69th Regiment of the New York State National Guard—the legendary “Fighting 69th”—as well as parade grand marshal, James T. Callahan, general president of the International Union of Operating Engineers, and his aides, and members of the Parade Committee.
The Mass will be broadcast and available on many cable systems via the Catholic Faith Network and its website at www.catholicfaithnetwork.org, livestreamed on the St. Patrick’s Cathedral website at www.saintpatrickscathedral.org/live and broadcast on radio on The Catholic Channel of Sirius XM (Channel 129).
Gov. Cuomo said he had “several conversations with organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade” yesterday to determine whether the parade should be held next week “in light of the evolving coronavirus situation and increased case count in the New York City area.”
After the governor recommended postponing the march, he said “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,” said the governor, “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.
Sean Lane, chairman of the St. Patrick’s Parade and Celebration Committee, in a statement, thanked the governor 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,” Lane said.
The decision to postpone this year’s New York City march matches outcomes of St. Patrick’s Day parades in numerous cities around the United States, including Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Kansas City.
Other major announcements to combat the coronavirus were also made March 11. President Donald Trump, in a televised address to the nation, said that air travel from Europe to the United States would be suspended for 30 days, beginning Friday.
In the sports world, the NBA season was suspended “until further notice” after Rudy Gobert, a player on the Utah Jazz, tested positive for the virus. It was also announced that the popular NCAA basketball tournament will be contested without fans this year.
In the Archdiocese of New York, organizers of the Yonkers St. Patrick’s Day parade, originally scheduled for Saturday, March 21, have also announced their decision to postpone the march to Sept. 19.
The parade’s executive board, in a letter emailed to Catholic New York March 11, said they had made the decision “with an abundance of caution and care for our community, and as a result of medical advice in the midst of this health crisis…”