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*** UPDATED x1 *** Downtown Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is called off

Wednesday, Mar 11, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller


Chicago’s popular downtown St. Patrick’s Day parade set for Saturday is being called off due to coronavirus concerns. The parade’s website announced the decision this morning. There’s no word, yet, on whether the annual South Side parade will go ahead as planned Sunday. Both parades were in doubt after Gov. JB Pritzker said Tuesday that officials were taking a hard look at large public gatherings as the number of COVID-19 virus cases in Illinois rose to 19. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot have scheduled a news conference this morning to give an update on the virus situation.

You can watch that press conference by clicking here.

…Adding… The city has three parades and the Tribune story uses the plural

The coronavirus claimed its first major events in Chicago’s civic life Wednesday, as Mayor Lori Lightfoot canceled the city’s massive St. Patrick’s Day parades because of fears the disease would spread through the dense crowds. […]

But in the end, Lightfoot had to know she would be judged more harshly if Chicago got hit especially hard by the COVID-19 virus and the outbreak was traced back to the decision to go ahead with the parades. Health officials have been warning for weeks that the best way to avoid contracting the respiratory ailment is to avoid close contact with people who are infected.

* Sun-Times

Other major cities across the globe have canceled their St. Patrick’s Day parades; they include Boston and Dublin.

Even Ald. Matt O’Shea [19th], whose Beverly ward hosts the South Side Irish Parade, has said both events should be canceled.

…Adding… Mary Ann…

*** UPDATE *** Press release…

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, Governor JB Pritzker, and officials from the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC)today announced the City will postpone this weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day parades as a precautionary measure to prevent further spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The City will continue working with organizers from Chicago’s downtown, South Side, and Northwest Side parades, as well as the annual Dyeing of the Chicago River to reschedule these events to a later date and ensure the health and safety of Chicago’s residents and visitors.

The decision to postpone the official St. Patrick’s Day parades follows guidance and information from public health experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and counterparts in other jurisdictions experiencing similar impacts from COVID-19. The St. Patrick’s Day parades and associated activities present very unique circumstances for Chicago, drawing over a million attendees, many from outside of the city and across the country, and offering few opportunities for attendees to practice social distancing – a key recommendation by health experts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The health and safety of Chicago’s residents will always be our highest priority and like many other cities across the nation and globe, we are postponing this year’s parades as a precautionary measure to prevent any additional spread of COVID-19,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “I want everyone to rest assured that your City and State continue to work around the clock to stay ahead of this issue and ensure everyone remains protected, informed, and safe.”

As part of today’s measures, the City will continue to work with state and county agencies on an ongoing basis to review all future non-essential, large gatherings and provide recommendations to the appropriate parties as needed. As it relates to other large planned events, the City’s guidance and protocol for large events will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

“We all know what the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations mean to us in the city of Chicago — but as elected leaders, we can’t take any chances with the health of our residents,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Because of what we’ve seen nationally and across the world of the increased risk of large gatherings, this was the right call and I thank Mayor Lightfoot for her leadership in this difficult situation. Now that we’ve reached the stage where we’re seeing regular new cases—reflecting additional spread within our communities—we have to make every effort to minimize further spread.”

For anyone celebrating St. Patrick Day this weekend, the City’s public health officials recommend practicing common sense health safety tips and social distancing, including:

    Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    Stay home when you are sick.
    Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. At this time, no special sanitizing processes beyond routine cleaning are necessary or recommended to slow the spread of respiratory illness.

Vulnerable populations – consisting of those 60 years or older or with underlying health conditions –may be more susceptible to COVID-19. The City encourages members of vulnerable populations and anyone who is sick to remain home and not attend large gatherings.

“Protecting the health and wellness of both Chicago’s residents and visitors is our top priority as we continue to learn more about the nature of COVID-19,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, M.D., Commissioner of CDPH. “We want to be sure that everyone understands the daily measures they can take to keep themselves safe such as social distancing, routine handwashing and avoiding touching the eyes, nose and mouth. We remain in constant communication with the CDC as well as federal, state and local officials to determine the best protocol moving forward in this ever-evolving situation.”

To ensure the safety of residents celebrating Chicago St. Patrick’s Day this weekend, OEMC will activate the City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) as part of an effort to monitor any activities and crowds as well as coordinate resource requests and responses to individual situations. Additionally, OEMC has established the COVID-19 Task Force in partnership with the Mayor’s Office and CDPH to address essential areas of operations and collaborate with departments and sister agencies on preparedness and preventive measures.

“Ensuring that City’s robust response plan is both efficient and effective for residents is our top priority, said Rich Guidice, Executive Director at OEMC. “To ensure that our City remains prepared in the wake of this fast-moving and evolving situation, OEMC has created the COVID-19 Task Force with 12 unique subcommittees to continuously address and update our response tactics.”

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Illinois is increasing. and current information suggests that person-to-person spread will continue to occur and more cases will be identified in the United States and in Chicago. CDPH’s goal is to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in Chicago by detecting new cases quickly, minimizing transmission and developing guidance to prepare communities to respond.

“Chicago’s South Side Irish Parade is one of the community’s most anticipated and celebrated traditions,” said Alderman Matt O’Shea, 19th Ward. “While this decision will be disappointing to many, minimizing the potential for COVID-19’s spread must be our top priority.”

More information and updates on COVID-19 can be found on the IDPH website, the CDPH website, and the CDC website. You can also contact the Chicago Department of Public Health at

…Adding… South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee…

Out of an abundance of caution to contain the spread of COVID-19, the City of Chicago has made the decision to postpone many of the St. Patrick’s Day events this weekend, including our Parade. While we are disappointed in this development, we well understand the City of Chicago Department of Public Health’s prudent concerns and the recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that prompts this decision to help keep citizens safe and healthy.

The South Side Irish Parade Committee hopes everyone will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and Irish heritage in a safe and family-friendly way this year and we look forward to March 14, 2021, when the largest community celebration of St. Patrick’s Day outside of Dublin will step off once again.

…Adding… Daily Herald

St. Charles has joined Chicago in canceling St. Patrick’s Day festivities this weekend amid rising concerns of the coronavirus, organizers said.

The annual St. Charles parade, scheduled to take place Saturday afternoon, typically draws thousands of spectators to the city’s downtown Main Street.

…Adding… Springfield’s is still a go, by the way…

…Adding… This will help a bit and it’s a smart move by the commission…

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  1. - Chicagonk - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:06 am:

    Good to see - Pritzker, Lightfoot, and Preckwinkle need to be aggressive on this. Who knows what help Illinois will get from the federal government. This is going to explode and state and local leaders need to step up because this trumps everything else that is going on right now.

  2. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:07 am:

    Very smart and compassionate move. We have to focus our efforts on identification and containment.

  3. - Montrose - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:09 am:

    South side is cancelled as well.

  4. - efudd - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:11 am:

    Leaders leading. Not spewing nonsense about a hunch that this will be over in April.

  5. - Southern Skeptic - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:12 am:

    Parades are all cancelled.

  6. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:14 am:

    It’s the smart move, not the prudent move.

    The prudent move would’ve been to cancel it yesterday, because, what, waiting a day was going to make it better or things would turn and this would be gone today?

    Why am I dinging a move I think is smart.

    Don’t make these decisions to seem one way or another, you’ll be too cute by half in the eyes of some who may face the virus and are waiting fir real-time leadership.

  7. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:16 am:

    ===what, waiting a day was going to make it better===

    Mayor was out of town.

  8. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:21 am:

    === Mayor was out of town.===


    I’ll wait until the presser later and see what is said next.

  9. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:22 am:

    should they close the bars, cancel March Madness and Opening Day while they are at it?

  10. - fs - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:23 am:

    Will be curious to see if Springfield’s St Paddy’s day stuff still happens. That’s a huge economic engine for those downtown bars. Maybe the biggest of the year.

  11. - NIU Grad - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:23 am:

    Also if they announced yesterday, this would have dominated the coverage and distracted from the update yesterday. Probably a secondary concern to the Mayor being out of town, though.

  12. - Westender - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:24 am:

    Is there a set time the press conferences are happening each afternoon?

  13. - Moe Berg - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:25 am:

    There is literally no reason the Illinois House and Senate need to convene next week, or, frankly, for the next several weeks.

    The utterly incompetent, disorganized response from the federal government means state and local officials need to fill the vacuum as best they can. Cancelling the parades was an example, much more will be needed.

    The paramount goal has to be “flattening the curve” so the epidemic spreads more slowly. That can delay, and if we are lucky prevent, hospitals from getting overwhelmed. The ONLY way to do that is cancelling mass gatherings and urging social distancing.

    Recognize this is like nothing we’ve seen in a very long time. Learn from what other countries have done right and wrong.

    Lead and stop squandering the limited time we have left to prevent a catastrophe.

  14. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:26 am:

    === should they close the bars, cancel March Madness and Opening Day while they are at it?===

    Ask Italy.

  15. - Yup - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:34 am:

    The Mid-American Conference closed their men’s and women’s tournaments to spectators. I won’t be surprised if the NCAA does the same for March Madness.

    What will the IHSA and Peoria do for the boy’s state tournament this weekend and next?

  16. - Archpundit - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:34 am:

    ==Ask Italy.

    They are having to ration care at this point. It’s amazing Lucky thinks he’s being ridiculous.

  17. - efudd - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:35 am:

    “should they close the”

    If that’s what it takes to flatten the curve, yes.

    What’s wrong with you?

  18. - Responsa - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:41 am:

    I highly support this move with respect to the parades. Now, I wish they’d consider suspending/postponing the Illinois primary election too. Rescheduling and waiting a few months shouldn’t materially affect any of the races since the conventions are not until mid summer and the general isn’t until Nov. Local primary races don’t need to be decided immediately. If we’re going to try to nip this thing in the bud in Illinois while it still appears manageable then let’s go all out.

  19. - former southerner - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:44 am:

    efudd said in response to Lucky: ==If that’s what it takes to flatten the curve, yes.

    What’s wrong with you==

    There isn’t enough bandwidth on the net to properly address that question. And it is great to see the state becoming ever more proactive. A little pain now is far better than a lot of pain later.

  20. - Ok - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:49 am:

    What are we going to do with a blue river?

  21. - Joe Bidenopolous - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:50 am:

    =should they close the bars, cancel March Madness and Opening Day while they are at it?=

    It’s amazing to me how dismissive some are of the very real threat this poses not just to individuals but to our health system as a whole. If this turns into China or Italy, we’re screwed. That said, it’s entirely unsurprising that the people who spew this nonsense are mostly from the same political tribe. Blind followers gonna follow.

    =Is there a set time the press conferences are happening each afternoon?=

    2:30 PM CT

  22. - fs - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 10:01 am:

    == What are we going to do with a blue river?==

    You mean dark green instead of bright green? When has the Chicago River ever been blue?

  23. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 10:04 am:

    Lucky could also look into how cities reacted in 1918. Specifically how St Louis fared once they shut down large public gatherings.

  24. - ImHere - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 10:06 am:

    Good. Now do CPS, sporting events and encourage work from home. You can even do a separate news conference for each one. Yeah, more camera time!

    Your move, Langfelder.

  25. - Captain Who - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 10:12 am:

    Limiting large gatherings is the smart thing to do. What about bowling alleys? Aren’t a lot of bowling leagues made up of a bunch of older guys crammed together in an enclosed space for hours at a time? Most winter bowling leagues still have around 4 weeks left. What could go wrong?

  26. - In 630 - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 10:12 am:

    Not the time to be piling thousands of people on top of each other.

    Shamrock Shuffle, you are now on the clock.

  27. - Archpundit - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 10:16 am:

    BTW, Anthony Fauci just testified that large gatherings should be stopped and if that means professional sports, so be it.

  28. - Lurker - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 10:21 am:

    Some people in Peoria are expressing concerns about Chicago area schools and fans coming to the class 3A 4A tourney. Wonder if any change in plans for that?

  29. - Fumble fingers - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 10:21 am:

    Post Dispatch “Stay away: Missouri lawmakers urge groups to avoid the Capitol during virus outbreak”

  30. - Leatherneck - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 10:21 am:

    - fs - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:23 am:

    Will be curious to see if Springfield’s St Paddy’s day stuff still happens. That’s a huge economic engine for those downtown bars. Maybe the biggest of the year.

    That plus the weekend before Halloween, or so it seems.

  31. - Leatherneck - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 10:23 am:

    - Fumble fingers - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 10:21 am:

    Post Dispatch “Stay away: Missouri lawmakers urge groups to avoid the Capitol during virus outbreak”


    Illinois lawmakers should urge the same, especially the school field trips and lobby days/rallies. Maybe even state employee unions may need to get involved to urge a temporary ban on such large gatherings in the Capitol Complex during the coronavirus outbreak.

  32. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 10:28 am:

    ==- Yup - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 9:34 am:==

    The Lead podcast covered a measles outbreak leading to empty arenas in conference tournaments in the past.

  33. - jimbo - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 10:42 am:

    I still am amazed at the “it’s overblown” reaction some have.

    Scott Gottlieb MD - advised Scott Walker, was on the Trump transition team, was FDA commissioner for two years and is a fellow with AEI- meaning a Republican’s Republican- has been pushing for weeks that we are underestimating this.

    Here’s a not so fun fact. China had 59 cases 9 weeks ago. I know it seems like forever ago- but it wasn’t and there is no data to suggest that we- or any other country are anything more than several weeks behind them on the timeline.

    2/3 of our hospital beds are alredy full on any given day.

  34. - Back to the Future - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 10:48 am:

    Bummer, but a necessary action that makes sense.

  35. - Langhorne - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 11:24 am:

    Spfld sat forecast is rain turning to snow, high of 38.
    A mom w small kids wont want to stand in cold rain snow mix.
    Bars will be packed tighter than ever, revelers not wanting to be outside—their choice. Marching Bands might cancel. Thats before taking into consideration the virus. Cancel the parade now, minimize risk and save a chunk of city payroll.

  36. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 12:05 pm:

    “should they close the bars…”

    What about crowded restaurants?

  37. - Amalia - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 12:16 pm:

    comment about primary election is spot on. this is being affected by the inability of direct voter contact. only those with big money can compete.

  38. - Vote Quimby - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 1:01 pm:

    Good move by the Liquor Commission to allow returns… a small move to hopefully help some of the bars stay afloat. Wow… it’s like people in Illinois government are taking action again. /s

  39. - Last Bull Moose - Wednesday, Mar 11, 20 @ 1:12 pm:

    I am as eager as any to slow the spread of Covid-19. Still I would not change the primary this close to the scheduled date.

    We managed an election in 1864. I think we can manage this.

    Also, if we delay it two weeks there will be more infected people than than now. I think it will be increasingly dangerous each day for at least the next month.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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