St. Patrick’s Day parades turn pandemic blues Irish green

Mar 16, 2022, 10:06 PM | Updated: Mar 17, 2022, 5:49 pm
Bagpipers march up Fifth Avenue while they pass in front of St. Patrick Cathedral during the St. Pa...

Bagpipers march up Fifth Avenue while they pass in front of St. Patrick Cathedral during the St. Patrick's Day Parade, Thursday, March 17, 2022, in New York. St. Patrick's Day celebrations across the country are back after a two-year hiatus. That includes New York City's parade, the nation's largest and oldest. It's a sign of growing hope that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic may be over. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

(AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

NEW YORK (AP) — St. Patrick’s Day celebrations across the country are back after a two-year hiatus, including the nation’s largest in New York City, in a sign of growing hope that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic may be over.

The holiday served as a key marker in the outbreak’s progression, with parades celebrating Irish heritage among the first big public events to be called off in 2020. An ominous acceleration in infections quickly cascaded into broad shutdowns.

The full-fledged return of New York’s parade on Thursday coincided with the city’s wider reopening. Major mask and vaccination rules were recently lifted.

The city’s famed Fifth Avenue was awash with green, as hordes of revelers took to sidewalks amid damp skies to take part in the tradition for the first time in two years.

Kathy Brucia, 65, who is Irish and was clad in green, including a shamrock on her cheek, has been attending the parade for more than three decades — except the past two years.

“The pandemic,” she said as the first marching band passed by Thursday morning. “I don’t think it’s over. But I think a lot of people feel like, wow, we could finally go to a parade and not worry. But I think everybody has to worry.”

The day held great importance for a city still reeling from the outbreak.

“Psychologically, it means a lot,” said Sean Lane, the chair of the parade’s organizing group. “New York really needs this.”

Mike Carty, the Ireland-born owner of Rosie O’Grady’s, a restaurant and pub in the Theater District, agreed.

“This is the best thing that happened to us in two years,” he said. “We need the business, and this really kicked it off.”

The South’s largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration made a big comeback in Savannah, Georgia, where Irish immigrants and their descendants have held parades since 1824. After nearly two centuries, the holiday has become Savannah’s most profitable tourist draw, a street party for hundreds of thousands still thirsty after Mardi Gras.

Tori Purvis, 46, arrived before dawn to claim a spot near the start of the parade along with her 3-year-old son, Tristan, still wearing his pajamas decorated with leprechaun hats and rainbows. Purvis said she’s been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah since childhood, and the only years she recalls not showing up were 2020 and 2021 when the pandemic forced the parade to be canceled.

“I’m not against masks or anything, but it’s nice to see people outside without masks and enjoying their time,” Purvis said. “It’s like a little bit of normalcy is coming back.”

Over the weekend, Chicago dyed its river green, after doing so without much fanfare last year and skipping the tradition altogether during the initial virus onslaught.

Boston, home to one of the country’s largest Irish enclaves, resumes its annual parade Sunday after a two-year absence.

Some communities in Florida, one of the first states to reopen its economy, were also bringing their parades back. The state chose St. Patrick’s Day two years ago to shutter restaurants, bars and nightclubs — a dramatic move by the Republican and which underscored the fear and uncertainty of the time.

New York’s parade — the largest and oldest of them all, first held in 1762 — runs 35 blocks along Fifth Avenue, past St. Patrick’s Cathedral and along Central Park.

It’s being held as the city emerges from a discouraging bout with the highly contagious omicron variant, which killed more than 4,000 people in New York City in January and February.

New infections and hospitalizations have declined since the surge, prompting city officials to green-light the procession.

On Thursday, Mayor Eric Adams began his pub crawl early, raising a pint of Guinness while visiting one of his city’s Irish establishments.

He likened the pandemic to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

“COVID is not terrorism, but it brought terror,” the mayor told radio station WAXQ-FM. “And now we’re at the 9/12 moment when we march down in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. We’re getting up and we’re saying New York is stronger, better and we’re ready to get back to our city being open.”

To keep the tradition going, organizers in 2020 and 2021 quietly held small parades on St. Patrick’s Day, right around sunrise, when the streets were empty.

Thousands of people showed up for this year’s parade, even as many New Yorkers remain skittish about massive, potentially virus-spreading public events.

The holiday commemorates the death of the patron saint of Ireland more than 15 centuries ago but has evolved into a money-making observance of Irish culture for restaurants and pubs.

But there was solemnity, too. Thursday’s procession paused to remember the fallen — including those who perished during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, first responders killed in the line of duty and the thousands of pandemic casualties.

The Bishop Edmund Whalen, speaking outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral, expressed kinship with the people of Ukraine.

“We Irish know all too well the injustice of domination and oppression from those who sought to impose their rule over us,” he said. “And so we pray for the people of Ukraine who suffer this day from the injustice of war.”

______

Associated Press writer Russ Bynum contributed from Savannah, Georgia.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Police officers stand guard as other officers in yellow vests walk back at the cordoned off area ne...
Associated Press

Spain finds more letter bombs after Ukraine embassy blast

MADRID (AP) — Explosive devices concealed in postal packages were discovered at Spain’s Defense Ministry, a satellite center at an air base and an arms factory that makes grenades sent to Ukraine, Spanish authorities said Thursday, a day after a similar package exploded at the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid. Authorities also said that a similar […]
7 hours ago
FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2019, file photo, Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg talks to th...
Associated Press

Gaetz friend to be sentenced on sex crimes, other counts

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A former Florida tax collector whose arrest led to a federal probe into U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz has cooperated in investigations of two dozen people for sex trafficking and other crimes, but it may not be enough to spare him a long time in prison when he is sentenced Thursday. Joel […]
7 hours ago
FILE - The logo of Google is displayed on a carpet at the entrance hall of Google France in Paris, ...
Associated Press

Google appeals huge Android antitrust fine to EU’s top court

LONDON (AP) — Google is challenging a record European Union antitrust fine that took aim at the Android operating system’s role in restricting mobile competition and consumer choice. The company said Thursday that it filed the appeal against the 4.125 billion euro ($4.3 billion) penalty “because there are areas that require legal clarification from the […]
7 hours ago
An ambulance is parked outside St Thomas' Hospital, in London, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. Some 10000 a...
Associated Press

UK ambulance service struggles in winter health care crisis

LONDON (AP) — Thousands of patients each week are being stranded for long stretches in ambulances outside overflowing British hospitals, a growing crisis that has likely contributed to scores of deaths, health care leaders said Thursday. The U.K.’s ambulance service is seizing up in some areas as the country’s health system faces an inferno of […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Is now the right time for your business to buy real estate?

For small businesses hoping to establish or expand their brick-and-mortar presence, it may seem like a bad time to sink cash into a commercial property purchase. Amid predictions of an upcoming recession, the Federal Reserve increased the federal funds rate for the sixth time in 2022, citing inflation risks and global conflict. Inevitably, this will […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

African continent finally to receive 1st mpox vaccines

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Africa’s top public health body says the continent is set to receive its first batch of mpox vaccines as a donation from South Korea. The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday the 50,000 doses will be used first for health workers and people living in the hardest-hit areas. […]
7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
St. Patrick’s Day parades turn pandemic blues Irish green