BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The City of Buffalo announced it has canceled its St. Patrick's Day Parade due to concerns about COVID-19/coronavirus.
The decision comes days after the City of Buffalo said the St. Patrick's Day Parade will go on as scheduled.
Buffalo joins a number of cities across the world to cancel their St. Patrick's Day parades.
So far there are no positive cases of coronavirus/COVID-19 in Western New York.
“We’re doing this out of consideration of what the health department has told us is the best way to protect our neighbor,” stated Brigid Knott, United Irish American Association.
Knott, a Buffalo parade organizer for the Delaware Avenue Parade, joined mayor brown brown and other leaders in announcing the cancellation.
The mayor says it was not the city's decision to cancel the parades.
“This was a difficult decision for the parade organizers, but they made that decision keeping the health and safety of this community in mind,” Mayor Brown said.
The Delaware Avenue parade normally attracts 100,000 people.
Parade organizers say they made the decision based on recommendations from the Erie County Health Department and the importance of social distancing as a precautionary measure not to spread COVID-19.
But absent from the announcement was Peg Overdorf, parade organizer of the Old Neighborhood Parade in the First Ward. She declined an on-camera interview.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncraz offered a blunt statement about the need to prevent large gatherings.
“That if you below the age of 60 you will get infected, may not realize anything or have a mild form of it, but you could pass it on to someone else and it could be a death sentenced,” Poloncarz remarked.
“We are taking the proper precautions and steps in our community to protect the health and safety of our residents,” declared Mayor Brown.
But the St. Patrick’s parade creates one of busiest days for bars downtown.
Bar owners along Chippewa announced it will be business as usual.
Jay Manno owns Soho and Frankie Primo’s.
“I don’t want to downplay it. I’s obviously a serious thing, but you know the country of how many however many millions of people we have there’s like 33-deaths - you got a better shot of getting hit by a car,” Manno said.
Tim Walton is an assist manager at Bottoms Up. He says he understands both sides, but they also worry about their employees.
“Everyone still has their rent they still have their car payments you know and it goes just beyond the bar owners you know making money behind the bar—it’s their tips - their wages everything. There’s a lot of people that are affected by it,” Walton said.
Most of the bars in the Chippewa District are expected to open noon Sunday and remain open throughout the day even without the parade.