The announcement of full steam ahead for so many St. Patrick's Day marches and festivals gladdens the hearts of millions of Americans, not all of them Irish.
In Dublin the government announced the five day extravaganza known as the St. Patrick's Festival would finally take place.
“This celebration of our national day sends the message out loud and clear – Ireland is open again for tourism,” Culture Minister Catherine Martin said in a statement Monday.
America too will celebrate, from the canyons of New York to the desert parade in Arizona and the Irish celebration in Nome, Alaska. As one Alaskan wag put it, “There's nowhere like Nome to celebrate the Irish season.”
The day will be seen everywhere as a harbinger of spring. St. Patrick’s Day on Thursday, March 17 will mark the emergence from the dark and the entrance into the light again for so many Americans.
It has been two years since the fife and drums and bagpipes and fiddles and bodhrans emerged from the longest winters on record.
It has been two years since thousands across the country and the world donned their green sashes and marched to the beat of the Irish drums.
It has been two years since a million pubs around the world overflowed with bonhomie and cheer, and since the glad gatherings of Gaels from all over the world at dances, dinners and festivals has occurred.
In that time of darkness, we had enough to sustain us with the memories of the good times, but truth be told, we have waited long enough. The virus has depleted and drained us all.
We are not certain of clear waters even with omicron on the wane, but the luck of the Irish seems certain to be upheld in 2022.
Not since Patrick's Day in 2002 after 9-11 will the Irish day carry such meaning. Back then it was the opportunity, so badly needed, to cheer on the police and firefighters, so many of whom had colleagues who gave their lives on September 11.
On a lighter note, while some will frown on drowning the shamrock, one can only imagine the relief and joy that the green is back.
And not just in the Irish scene but in the spending of much-needed money so that the hospitality business can kick its recovery into high gear.
The financial losses have been incalculable. As Bloomberg reported about the Dublin parade, “The return of the festival will be a boost for the hospitality sector, which has been battered by successive lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions. Before the pandemic, the festival organizers put its economic benefit at more than 73 million euros ($83.4 million). This year March 18 will also be a public holiday in Ireland in recognition of people’s efforts through the pandemic.”
Everywhere from darkest Alaska to sunny Samoa, the role of the front-line workers who took so many through the worst of the emergencies and in countless numbers risked their own lives must be celebrated and recognized.
Like the firefighters and police officers after 9/11 they are true American heroes, from the cleaners to the top doctors who battled the grim reaper and eventually won.
We are not in the clear, however. The virus still lurks especially for those who have not been vaccinated. It could all still go horribly wrong, but with each passing day it seems like Covid is beating a hasty retreat.
Not a moment too soon, and the perfect antidote to banish the gloom is the joy and fun of marching up and down back and forth across America.
Here's hoping St. Patrick will banish the virus as well as the snakes in 2022.
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