MERIDEN — Organizers of the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade are postponing the 47th annual event to May 16 in light of the governor's ban on large events.
The decision was made at a meeting Thursday night, parade co-chair Jim Finley said. Members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish-American organization the runs the parade, voted unanimously for the change.
“The new parade date of May 16 will allow the current public health situation to stabilize while still allowing central Connecticut’s favorite and largest parade to take place,” Finley said in a press release.
On Thursday afternoon, Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order banning gatherings of more than 250 people through April 30 in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Meriden’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, which was scheduled for March 21, attracts thousands from the city and region.
The new date of May 16 — a Saturday — would come after the April 30 parameter Lamont set for the ban, however, the prohibition could be extended or modified. Violators could face criminal penalties.
The new parade date will have to be continually reevaluated, City Manager Tim Coon said Friday
Mayor Kevin Scarpati disagreed with the decision.
“I feel as though holding it in May isn’t going to bring out the attendance nor is it going to bring out the strong Irish spirit that we are accustomed to each year,” he said. “So I would have rather seen a cancellation.”
He’s also concerned that the ban set by Lamont could be extended and require another cancellation or postponement.
“It’s understandable why the (parade committee) wants to move forward and hold the parade,” Scarpati said. “They worked hard to raise the funds, and it means a lot to the AOH, but I would have preferred seeing something not done at all this year.”
Up until last month, the parade was in jeopardy due to a lack of funding. Organizers had to raise roughly $5,000 in a matter of weeks.
Finley, in an interview, said the AOH wanted to “honor the intent of the donors” by moving forward with a parade.
“We’re just hopeful that the whole public health situation will stabilize by then,” he said.
State epidemiologist Matthew Cartter said Thursday he expects 10 to 20 percent of Connecticut residents could be infected in the next two months. If there's a second wave of infections in the fall, he said 70% of the state's population could be infected.