Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade canceled for second year amid pandemic

  • The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art float proceeds on Northampton Street on March 17, 2019, during the 68th annual St. Patrick’s Parade in Holyoke. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/5/2021 2:32:42 PM

HOLYOKE – For the second consecutive year, the 69th Annual Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We understand that many will be saddened, but we need to do what is best for our community,” said Marc Joyce, 2020-2021 parade president, in a statement. “We will march again and we will have much to celebrate over homecoming weekend in 2022.”

The date for the next parade, which would be the first since 2019, is March 20, 2022.

The vote to suspend all in-person parade activities, including the accompanying road race, through the end of March was made at a Jan. 3 meeting of the St. Patrick’s Parade Committee. The committee cited the importance of safety in canceling the parade.

“Although some have been able to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine, it is not yet widely distributed enough,” the committee stated. “The health and safety of first responders, parade spectators and parade participants are our primary concern.”

In an interview, Joyce said that holding the parade and road race would result in at least two super spreader events.

“We’re following the science,” he said.

He did say, however, that a virtual road race is in the works, as was done last year.

The city’s St. Patrick’s Parade was first established in 1952 and draws thousands of people from across the region. Award winners and colleens from 2020 will be carried over to the 2022 parade, according to the committee.

William “Duke” O’Riordan, who served as the marshal for the Northampton contingent of the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade in 2018, said the cancellation is disappointing. However, he also said he supports it.

“The pandemic is still raging,” O’Riordan said. “I have no problem with them canceling it.”

Northampton St. Patrick’s Association President Meggan Gilboy also expressed sadness at the cancelation, while supporting the decision.

“We’re all being safe not doing this parade,” she said.

O’Riordan also said that people will find ways to celebrate the holiday in their own way.

“We’re Irish for more than a day,” he said.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

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