Editor's Note: This is an update to a TAPinto story posted Wednesday night:
SOMERVILLE, NJ - The sponsors of the annual St. Patrick's Parade down Main Street agreed Thursday morning to cancel this year's event because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), citing concerns for the safety of spectators and parade participants.
"I spoke to the executive committee, the mayor, the police chief and a few others that were involved with the parade," said Larry Doyle, parade chairman and a member of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, St. Patrick's Division No. 1.
"It's unfortunate, but we have to look out for the safety of the public and participants," he added. "We will be back next year."
The AOH posted this letter on their website:
The Somerville Saint Patrick’s Parade Committee has been monitoring the COVID-19 situation very carefully and responsibly with the rest of the nation. Planning, executing and the consideration of canceling a large community event supported by so many volunteers, agencies, municipal and county resources, sponsors, donors, patrons, local businesses and participants working throughout the entire year is a serious decision.
We are in serious times. The Somerville Saint Patrick’s Parade Committee will be canceling this year’s Parade for the sake of public health and public health resources in our area and after the guidance of our national, state and local public health officials.
This will not stop the Parade Committee from continuing its work. There is much heavy lifting to do in the days ahead and we will be doing this with our borough and county agencies, sponsors, key donors and small businesses who are affected largely by our decision.
This is Somerville’s Parade and we are all so very proud of it. The Parade will be back!!!
Please look forward to further updates on our website https://www.somervillesaintpatricksparade.com/ or Like us on Facebook “Somerville Saint Patrick’s Parade, Inc. This will provide you with the most up-to-date and accurate information directly from the Parade Committee.
Please note, we are not prepared, at this very time, to offer a re-scheduled date because of the complexity of such an event.
Thank you for your understanding during these challenging times.
The Somerville Saint Patrick’s Parade Committee wish you and your families a very happy and blessed Saint Patrick’s Day.
Somerville Saint Patrick’s Parade Committee
Here is the original story:
SOMERVILLE, NJ - First came word last week from Ireland that Dublin was canceling its raucous St. Patrick's Day Parade, ground zero for Irish mischief and merriment, with over 500,000 crowding the streets and pubs to celebrate their national holiday.
But concerns over the Coronavirus (COVID-19), got in the way.
Then followed a long list of announcements from the mayors of Americas's big cities where their annual St. Patrick's Day Parade - including New York City, San Francisco, and more recently, Chicago and Philadelphia were either postponed or canceled; concerns with the Coronavirus factored in to those decisions.
Even a few of New Jerseys' large St. Patrick's Day Parades have been canceled or postponed, including Morristown and South Amboy.
Not so in Somerville. As of 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, the parade is a go.
The 29th annual Somerville St. Patrick's Parade is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m., Sunday, March 15th at the corner of Grove Street and East Main Street before heading west down West Main Street, concluding in the vicinity of Mountain Avenue.
The annual event draws upwards of 20,000 spectators to the county seat of Somerset, with dozens of bands and others including Wolf hounds, Mummers, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, step dancers and more.
"We've been on the phone talking non-stop since 5:30 this morning," said Patrick Mannion, owner of Mannion's Pub on Main street, and a member of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, St. Patrick's Chapter No. 1, sponsors of the annual parade.
In on the conversations were Larry Doyle, parade chairman and other AOH members.
"My phone has been ringing off the hook," Doyle said. "We are monitoring the situation closely. We have been in touch with local officials and if anything changes we will notify all concerned promptly," Doyle said, adding "Things could change very quickly in this environment.
"Our number one concern is public safety and the crowd, the marchers and the bands," Doyle added. "People come first.".
"We're all on the same page, we wanted to make sure we are doing everything that is right," Mannion explained, just hours after the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic, and the stock market closed with another 1,000-point loss on the day.
"Things are just bad all around and it's going to get a lot worse," Mannion said. "We hope we can help boost people's morale, just to come out and have a good time, get out of the house for a little bit,"
As of Wednesday night, none of the marching bands or other organizations had dropped out of the parade, according to Doyle.