For Irish communities worldwide, 2022 marks the return of St. Patrick's Day celebrations.
When COVID-19 arrived in the U.S. in 2020, St. Patrick's Day celebrations were among the first events canceled. Cities canceled parades and shuttered bars and restaurants to prevent the spread of the virus, removing much of the camaraderie and revelry involved in the holiday.
Some cities did move forward with St. Patrick's Day celebrations in 2021, though most toned down events. In many areas, the still newly-approved COVID-19 vaccines were still only available to those most vulnerable for severe illness, meaning many events took place with capped capacity or with mask requirements.
But this year, with life-saving vaccines and booster shots available to everyone older than 5 — and case rates dropping to manageable levels for the first time in months following the omicron surge — many St. Patrick's Day celebrations are returning to normal for the first time in two years.
On Saturday, the Chicago River was dyed green as the Windy City celebrated St. Patrick's Day. Denver held its annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, and Kansas City held "Snake Saturday" — its annual St. Patrick's Day parade and celebration.
"We've had two years without it and it's been duly needed for this community," said Kansas City resident Tim Batchteller who attended Snake Saturday.
"It just feels like things are getting back to normal, so it's really nice to see that," said Cherie Steffens in Denver. "I love the dancing. I love the music. I love the crowd. The parade is wonderful, it's one of the best parades I've ever been to."