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Fearing 'Another Surge,' Organizers Cancel Cleveland St. Pat's Parade

Calling the decision heartbreaking, the Cleveland St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee has canceled the annual event downtown for the second straight year by a unanimous vote.

"We met with our directors last week," parade executive director Linda Carney said Wednesday. "We reviewed all of the events that have been happening around the country with the vaccines and just the rise in cases and we just thought it would be best to bring it to our organization as a whole and put it to a vote."

Last year, the parade was canceled on March 11 after just the fourth case of COVID-19 was discovered in Ohio. At that time, parade organizers said they looked at other cities canceling their parades as guidance.

"Never before, until last year, has the parade under the auspices of the United Irish Societies been canceled and now it's two years running," said Patrick Murphy, director emeritus of the parade. "It's a hard thing for us to stomach but we're a very proud people and we're going to make sure we come back better and stronger next year."

Carney said parade organizers this year looked to the same indicators and cities as they did in 2020, and also cited DeWine's veto this week of a bill that would've lifted county fair restrictions for 2021.

"Several (other cities) have canceled, so we just looked about the fate of the March parade, she said.

"We met in November and we kind of [said] let's plan until we can't plan any further, and then after Thanksgiving time, when we saw the numbers rise in the cases and numbers of deaths, we thought putting on a parade in the middle of March could cause another surge," Carney said.

Carney added she feels for the bars, restaurants and hotels that support and benefit from the parade. Down payments will have to be refunded or moved to next years' parade; those discussions are ongoing, she said.

"I think it brings an enormous amount of money," Carney said. "It's the largest single-day event in Cleveland. So, that's bars and restaurants and transportation and I can't even imagine whatever else... I think it's going to be very heartbreaking for all those businesses that count on that. It's like the jumpstart of the events for the year, because it's the first event in spring."

Organizers made the decision on their own, Carney said, and did not have much contact with the city regarding permits for the 2021 parade. The committee is also working with city-managed TV 20 to air past parades or potential live or pre-recorded events on St. Patrick’s Day, which falls on March 17 this year.

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