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st. patrick's day parade 2018
Photograph: Grace DuVal

Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day parades aren’t happening this year

Both the Loop and South Side celebrations are being cancelled for the second year in a row.

Zach Long
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Zach Long
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This shouldn't come as a major surprise, but Chicago's St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the Loop and on the city's South Side won't be taking place in 2021. The Chicago Sun-Times broke the news this afternoon, citing conversations with downtown Alderman Brian Hopkins and South Side Irish Parade chairman Tim McSweeney, confirming that the city will "not be issuing any permits for parades or large gatherings in the first quarter."

This marks the second consecutive year that the once-annual events have been cancelled due to concerns about large groups of people gathering in the midst of a global pandemic. Last year, the City of Chicago called off the downtown parade and river dyeing just a few days before it was set to take place, explaining that the gatherings "posed unnecessary risks." The cancellation led parades on the city's South and Northwest Sides to follow suit.

Ald. Hopkins explained to the Sun-Times that the recent cancellations are just as much about the "the type of activity that the parade inspires" as the parades themselves. Traditionally, bars throughout River North and other parts of the city are packed with revelers on the weekend of Chicago's downtown St. Patrick's Day celebration. While restaurants and bars that serve food have recently reinstated indoor dining at 25 percent capacity, discouraging people from congregating for St. Patrick's Day is likely a sound decision as the city tries to keep case numbers on their current downward trend.

The city's moratorium on permits for large gatherings has already impacted several other annual winter and spring events in Chicago, including the Shamrock Shuffle, the Chicago Polar Plunge and Lunar New Year parades in Chinatown and Uptown. Many of these events will take place virtually this year, encouraging participants to make safe choices while continuing efforts to maintain fundraising and patronage to local businesses.

The large event cancellations aren't likely to end here. While some Chicagoans were hopeful that the summer of 2021 might signal a return to relative normalcy, Chicago's current vaccination schedule projects that the majority of city residents won't have access to doses until June at the earliest.  

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