What's St. Patrick’s Day without a parade? Communities in the New York tri-state area are about to find out – many of them for the second year straight – as Covid-19 has forced the cancellation of the vast majority of marches. But some intend to march on.
As of Tuesday, a handful of parades were still hoping to forge ahead but in a greatly reduced format because of pandemic restrictions. They include the annual march in Mineola, Long Island which is scheduled for Sunday, March 7. Organizers are hoping to host a Mass and a smaller parade and will meet this week to discuss plans that will remain subject to change up until the day.
The Union County parade in Elizabeth, New Jersey is tentatively set for Saturday, March 13. “A decision will be made shortly,” a spokesperson told the Irish Voice on Tuesday morning.
The annual march on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey is also indicating that it will go ahead on Saturday, March 13 at 1 p.m. It’s Facebook page was recently updated on January 20.
“We are optimistically working towards producing this year's Atlantic City St. Patrick's Day parade with the support of local businesses and the City of Atlantic City. The parade will be held Saturday, March 13. Please mark your calendar and click to receive updates. We look forward to seeing you in Atlantic City!” the Facebook update said.
In Connecticut, the annual parade in Mystic could go ahead on Sunday, March 21. It was canceled last year. “We are still in a to be determined status,” a spokesperson told the Irish Voice.
The granddaddy of all parades, the annual march up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, is still finalizing its plans for the 17th, but they will not include a parade with the usual marching bands, Irish associations and throngs of supporters on the sidelines.
The Queens County parade that takes place the first Saturday each March in Rockaway Beach has been canceled, as have all parades in New York’s five boroughs because permits are not being issued by the NYPD. Instead, the celebration will move online for a “compilation of prior parade highlights to continue our tradition and keep in mind the safety of all our marchers and community during these trying times,” a note on the parade’s website said with a fundraising link.
The St. Pat’s for All parade in Sunnyside-Woodside which traditionally takes place the first Sunday of March and attracts a who’s who of local and national political leaders has also been canceled. Founder Brendan Fay and committee members are working on presenting an online event instead.
“This weekend we received official notice from the NYPD that parades are canceled for the coming months,” Fay told the Irish Voice.
“Parades are vital expressions of Irish cultural and community life. More than ever the Irish diaspora in New York and across the U.S. is exploring new ways to stay connected, look after each other and celebrate our heritage and culture. As parade organizers, the pandemic is a jolt to our parade planning routine and a huge learning curve for us as we figure how to work zoom and the digital world.
Fay added, “On the positive side musicians, artists, and parade organizers in Ireland and in New York with great generosity are meeting online, connecting, and planning for March 2021. Leaders of St. Pat’s for All will organize our alternative 2021 celebration. We are very appreciative of the support from the Irish Consul General Ciaran Madden and the team at the consulate.”
The march in the Westchester town of Peekskill was officially canceled on January 21 for the second year in a row. “Though we had hoped conditions would allow us to move forward, the Peekskill St. Patrick’s Committee is announcing that we will not be holding our annual parade in 2021. The decision was made with the best interests of our parade participants, viewing public and our local businesses in mind,” a statement from organizers said.
“We are looking forward to Saturday, March 12, 2022 when we can once again gather to celebrate St. Patrick and our Irish heritage.”
The Yonkers St. Patrick’s Day parade on McLean Avenue is another two-year casualty of the pandemic. Organizers had hoped to hold the 2020 march in September but the rapid spread of Covid-19 prohibited the rescheduling. This year’s march has been canceled outright and the popular parade in the heart of the Woodlawn-Yonkers community will return on Saturday, March 19, 2022.
In Brooklyn, there are no plans to host the annual St. Patrick’s march in Bay Ridge for the second year running.
“We are under the assumption that there will be no parade again this year given the restrictions currently in force,” a spokesperson told the Irish Voice. “We will be having a board meeting shortly and will discuss options then.”
The town of Bayside in Queens hosted its first St. Patrick’s parade in 2018 and the second in 2019. Last year’s march was canceled because of Covid and so is this year’s, chairman Francis McLoughlin announced on Monday.
“As organizers of the parade, we feel morally obliged to avoid any chance of endangering our families, friends, guests, and the community at large by continuing with plans for this year’s Parade. We look forward, instead, to marching again on March 26, 2022,” he said.
“We deeply appreciate the understanding and support of the community on this decision and for the generous financial response, we have received to our continuing appeal for support. Our grand marshal Eileen Flannelly Mackell will continue to serve as the grand marshal in 2022. The 2020 aides to the grand marshal, Tommy Mulvihill, Joe Donovan, John Golden, Tom Golden, and Father Chris Henue, will also be honored in 2022.”
The annual Staten Island St. Patrick’s parade and the march in the Throggs Neck section of Queens have also been canceled. The Eastchester parade in Westchester has also not posted any updates to last year’s information, and organizers are expecting to officially cancel the Rockland parade in Pearl River.
On Long Island, large parades in Miller Place-Rocky Point and Glen Cove have been canceled. The Wantagh parade would have celebrated its second successful year on March 21, but on Monday night it was postponed. Organizers are hopeful of selecting an alternate date later in 2021.
The town of Huntington in Suffolk County hosts Long Island’s oldest St. Patrick’s parade which would have been 87 years old in 2021. It has been canceled until next year.
“We will postpone to next year celebrating all our frontline heroes which include the wonderful men and women who work at Huntington Hospital. We look forward to 2022 when their leader, Michael Dowling, will lead the parade through Huntington village,” a statement said. Information on a virtual fundraiser can be found at www.huntingtonhibernian.com.
In New Jersey, the 48th annual parade in Woodbridge which would have taken place on March 14 has been canceled, as have all parade planning and social events.
Also in New Jersey, the Belmar march has been nixed. “Unfortunately but not surprisingly, the 2021 parade cannot be held due to Covid-19. The parade committee is exploring options for other types of celebrations this season so stay tuned for updates,” the parade’s website says.
Organizers are hosting a fundraiser on Sunday, January 31 at Bar Anticipation in Lake Como. “We’re working hard to plan SOMETHING for 2021 – exactly what and when TBD. This fundraiser will help so please consider coming out to support us safely (public health guidelines will be enforced and number of attendees limited),” the website says.
Organizers of the parade in Asbury Park have a days to seconds countdown to when the Jersey Shore town will host its next St. Patrick’s parade – March 13, 2022.
“This decision was made in the interest of health and safety. We would like to thank all those who supported the parade and continue to do so,” their website said.
West Orange St. Patrick’s parade chairman Kevin Brennan announced that the town’s parade will not happen in March.
“We are currently evaluating other options for hosting events in 2021 when the current situation and restrictions improve,” he said in a message to parade supporters.
“Since this pandemic started, the committee -- in conjunction with other Irish organizations such as Friendly Sons of Shillelagh, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and the Women of Irish Heritage -- has organized mask distributions, food drives, and, most recently, a winter coat drive that resulted in us donating 230 coats to the Holy Trinity Church in West Orange. Please continue to follow our social media as we continue these charitable efforts throughout 2021 so that we can give back to this incredible community during these very difficult times. Remember, though, we will march again!”
The Morris County St. Patrick’s Day parade says it’s the largest one in New Jersey, but it won’t take place in March. Parade spokesperson Michael Leavy said that trustees “hope to conduct the parade at a later date when existing gathering restrictions are lifted.”
The Council of Irish Associations of Greater Bergen County has posted no information about a 2021 parade – what would have been the 39th annual Bergen parade last year was canceled – and the state’s oldest parade in Newark, which would have been 85 last year if it went ahead, is hoping to host a march in September.
The Nutley Irish American Association in New Jersey has called a halt to its Irish celebrations this year.
“You cannot imagine how upset we all are about this, but we would not be able to do it right, and it's not fair to our dignitaries, our organization, and our community. We will be carrying over the 2021 dignitaries to 2022. We promise all of you that the 2022 parade will be our biggest and best parade yet,” organizers said.
In Connecticut, the Irish American Cultural Society canceled its 26th annual St. Patrick’s march in Stamford. “It is in the best interest of public safety in our city that we cancel the grand marshal’s dinner and parade this year,” chairman Michael Feighan said. “Of course, we look forward every year to celebrating our shared Irish traditions and heritage with all our neighbors in Fairfield County, but if even one participant’s life was negatively impacted by our holding our events, that would be one too many.”
Organizers are hosting a “parade of giving” benefit online at www.stamfordstpatricksdayparade.com which will benefit local charity groups in Stamford. The benefit will be live up until St. Patrick’s Day.
Hartford nixed its parade for the second year running. “As long as public health conditions allow, the committee is planning a celebration of Irish culture with a halfway to St. Patrick’s Day event for the fall of 2021, in the capital city, in anticipation of the 50th annual Greater Hartford St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 12, 202,” organizers said.
This year will mark two years since a St. Patrick’s parade has been held in New Haven.
"The health and safety of our participants and spectators is of paramount importance to the Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee," the committee said in a statement. "In the best interests of the community, we have decided that our next parade will take place on March 13, 2022!"
Parade fans won’t be stepping off in Greenwich in March, but it is possible that a new date will be secured for later in the year.