It is with profound regret that the Rockland County St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee announces that we must cancel this year’s Rockland St. Patrick’s Day parade due to concerns regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
This has not been an easy decision, but the health and safety of the community must always be the overriding priority. However, the impact of canceling the parade should not be trivialized. Our first thoughts are to our well-deserving honorees who, after years of quiet service were getting the public recognition they so justly deserved. We are concerned about the economic impact on our community; for many small businesses, parade day is analogous to “Black Friday” and sustains them through leaner times throughout the year. These businesses are not just pubs and restaurants, but supermarkets, caterers, party goods stores, etc.. Many non-profit cultural organizations such as traditional musicians, pipe bands, and Irish dance schools rely on funds raised at St. Patrick’s Day performances to help them keep the tradition alive. There are the countless hours that volunteers have spent organizing the parade, which begins the week after the prior year’s parade. Finally, for many families this is a day of gathering, celebrating, and reminiscing on where they came from and the lost opportunity to create those memories cannot be replaced.
It has been both distressing and disappointing to see comments on social media advocating for the cancellation of the parade as if it were of no more significance than a child’s play-date. For those who question why it has taken this long to reach a decision to cancel the parade, we are reminded of the famous quote of Louie Armstrong “If you have to ask the question, you’ll never understand the answer.”
One of our greatest sorrows is the lost opportunity to pay just recognition to the accomplishments that Irish American men and women have made to our community, accomplishments that are so often overlooked. This year’s parade was dedicated to Thomas and Danial Foley, brothers who grew up in Rockland and were killed during 9/11; Tommy on the day and Dan only a few weeks ago due to 9/11 related cancer contracted while searching for his brother’s body. In the absence of St. Patrick’s day parade coverage, we would ask for our public leaders and the media to consider publicly reflecting on the contributions of Irish Americans to our nation.
We ask the intercession of St. Patrick to deliver our communities safely from this illness.