The decision by officials to cancel Chicago’s beloved St. Patrick Day parades in 2020 was one of the first signs that the coronavirus pandemic was going to upend every aspect of normal life — and the fact that the parades will not take place this year is more evidence the pandemic is far from over.
Thousands of Irish (and Irish for-a-day) Chicagoans typically flock to the downtown and South Side parades — as well as the less well-known Northwest Side parade — in mid-March to honor St. Patrick, a patron saint of Ireland, whose feast day is March 17.
But the city will not issue the permits the parades need to take place, officials confirmed Tuesday, even as the pandemic eases after a second wave during the fall and vaccines have begun to roll out across the city and state.
The downtown parade had been scheduled for March 13, with the South Side parade following on March 14.
“While traditional St. Patrick’s Day parades will not take place this year, we are working with organizers and communities to identify ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a safe manner that aligns with ongoing public health guidance,” said city spokesperson Christine Carrino.
Organizers of the downtown parade plan to host a virtual event, according to its website.
While Chicago and suburban Cook County are under the lightest level of COVID-19 restrictions Illinois has until there’s herd immunity, those rules prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people in most cases.
Despite warnings about the rapid spread of the newly discovered virus, Chicagoans packed into bars during St. Patrick’s Day weekend in 2020, prompting Gov. J.B. Pritzker to close bars and restaurants entirely to indoor service.