Lost amidst the furor over the elections on Tuesday, the City of Savannah has made it official and decided to cancel the St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year. The impact of Covid-19 will indeed stretch into 2021.
“I hoped and prayed that our situation might improve. But I think that with what we witnessed this holiday season, we put the health of our city and our citizens at risk. Therefore, I am recommending that we continue our moratorium on event permits issued by the city through the end of March 2021. This will, unfortunately, mean two straight years without our World famous St. Patrick’s Day celebration,” said Savannah Mayor Van Johnson.
The cancellation means Georgia and the coastal region will be without one of the largest events in the state for the second straight year. About 500,000 people make the trip to Savannah each year to put on their best green and soak up as much Irish-ish-ness as they can over the weekend. Savannah hotels and other hospitality industry magnets are going to be hard hit again. The parade is the second-largest St. Patrick’s Day event in the country, behind only New York City, with bands and marching groups coming in from all over the country to take part.
The mayor pointed to the lack of a mask mandate, a controversial item among some, and conflicting rules on Covid-19 preparedness for private businesses as one of the reasons why the city felt they could not manage St. Patrick’s Day safely.
John Fogarty is the General Chairman of the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee and was obviously saddened but noted the priority of public health. “While this is disappointing, we are confident in the City’s decision. Our top priority has always been to ensure the health, safety and welfare of parade participants and attendees,” said Fogarty.
Savannah’s Hibernian Society started the celebration in 1813 as a private observance for the patron saint of Ireland. The weekend’s festivities include the greening of the famous fountain at Forsyth Park in the Historic District and there is plenty of revelry along the Savannah River throughout the weekend.
“After the 2020 parade cancellation, we were hopeful for 2021 and we had applied for the special event permit. Over the past several months we have continued to work with the City of Savannah during the permitting process and now we need to be united in doing what is best for our community,” said Fogarty. “Since the first Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 1824, there have been extraordinary times when we had to cancel the parade, and this is unfortunately one of those times. Going forward, we commit to keep you aware of our future plans and we appreciate the community’s understanding and support.”