Organizers of Madison’s St. Patrick's day parade canceled the processions Thursday due to health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 virus.
This decision comes shortly in the wake of a number of local businesses and schools, including UW-Madison, similarly choosing to cancel or postpone public gatherings in order to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Madison.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee announced they would cancel the parade, which has been held for the past 23 years, due to their obligation to make sure illness would not spread as a result of festivities.
"Health officials haven't officially told us to cancel, but out of respect for the people of greater Madison, we won't be hosting the annual celebration” the committee stated. “We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused and look forward to celebrating again next March."
A number of other St. Patrick day events have also been canceled, including the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County’s “Shamrock Shuffle” charity run, which was set to have more than 3,000 participants.
“We understand from public health officials that as a community institution it’s our responsibility to think bigger, and help slow down all outbreaks across our state, especially as they put the most vulnerable members of our community in danger,” the club said in a statement. “And that means following their recommendations to avoid hosting large public gatherings whenever possible.
The Boys and Girls Club is expecting the cancellation of the charity run to be especially economically damaging for the organization, as the fundraiser was expected to bring in $100,000.
Currently, there exist only four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Dane County. However, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services recommends canceling or postponing large events and gatherings of more than 250 people in order to combat the virus.
A number of other major cities, including Chicago and New York, have similarly chosen to postpone or cancel their St. Patrick’s Day festivities in order to prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading.