The parade was scheduled for Sunday, March 15 but has been postponed, according to New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker.
“We have obviously a lot of concerns about this community spread of COVID-19, and since there are so many thousands of people coming from all around the state and beyond the state, and also there are many first responders who have to be at the parade, we felt like the risks outweigh the benefits and we decided it’s really important to postpone,” said Elicker.
Elicker added that while the city is monitoring changes to the coronavirus situation multiple times a day, it’s currently difficult to say with any certainty when the parade will be held.
“We wanted to make sure that people knew as early as possible because businesses rely on this and they ordering supplies for this. The parade organizers put an incredible amount of effort into the event, so it was a very, very difficult decision. You know at the end of the day we need to make sure that New Haven residents are safe and this decision we think is the right one,” said Elicker.
According to parade officials, the parade is the largest single-day spectator event in the state.
Bernadette Smyth LaFrance, Executive Chairman, Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade said the postponement was upsetting.
“It’s a bit shocking for sure,” LaFrance said. “We work 12 months out of the year; the size and scale and magnitude of our beloved parade is quite large so it does take us the full year to prepare for it and with six days out we are ready.”
She said the parade has only been postponed once and canceled once in its history.
“We are called the ‘Fighting Irish’ for a reason,” she said. “We are resilient. We will figure it out. We’re going to continue working business as usual.”
Earlier Monday, Governor Ned Lamont urged city leaders to cancel big gatherings of more than 100 people because of the coronavirus.
“Obviously every event is different and we will be accessing individual events as they come along. So that’s something we think is very important to make sure that people are not only using safe hygiene practices but avoiding large gatherings,” said Elicker.
While the parade committee understands why the event has been postponed, they said they’re still disappointed.
“[I’m] surprised, disappointed, but I understand where they are coming from,” said Joanne Conlan, Parade Chairwoman, Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “It is a health concern, so our health and the residents of New Haven and the people who come to the parade comes first.”
New Haven Health Director Maritza Bond said, “this is a serious and growing public health concern. I strongly urge all our residents to follow our Health Department guidelines and further guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).”
There are currently two presumptive cases on coronavirus in Connecticut.
For more information on COVID-19 preparedness, click here.