SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Locally, the Coronavirus is causing a 58-year tradition in Lackawanna County to stop in its tracks Wednesday.
Scranton’s St. Patrick’s parade was postponed over coronavirus fears, officials saying they just couldn’t take the chance. For many, they say the party will go on as planned.
The Scranton St. Patrick’s Parade began in 1962, but Wednesday, a postponement. The announcement a last resort for parade organizers. The first time it’s been cancelled or postponed for a non-weather issue.
Parade committee member, Tim Holmes says, “Scranton’s parade is one of the largest in the country. We simply want to avoid to exposing our community to the additional risk of having an event like this in our town.”
Scranton residents are broken up over the news.
“I’m honestly devastated,” says Richard Cunningham.
“Yeah I’m bummed out,” adds Beth Aberant, a local graduate student.
Scranton’s new mayor says the decision was made for the health, safety and welfare of the community.
“There are no cases we are aware of in Lackawanna County right now, but as we all know those infected with COVID-19 can show no symptoms and still be highly contagious,” says Mayor Paige Cognetti.
People hoping to attend the parade say they are disappointed, but understand it’s for the community’s safety.
“I wouldn’t be too scared about it, but you never know what can happen,” says Marcus Moody, a Scranton resident. “You want to take as many measures as you could to make sure nothing does spread.”
Aberant adds, “It’s something you can look forward to and to have it be postponed, it’s a little disappointing and there was so much anticipation for it, but you’ve got to be safe. You’ve got to take precaution when needed.”
At the press conference, Infectious Disease Specialist, Shubhra Shetty recommends, “I think it is very important if you are sick if you are high risk traveled to an area where there is a lot of COVID-19 activity please stay home.”
But, since big crowds are still expected in downtown Scranton Saturday, police will have extra officers on the streets.
“We will still have the same zero tolerance for any type of criminal activity for the city,” says Chief Carl Graziano, of the Scranton Police Department
Local bar managers say the show goes on and they’re expecting a good crowd, but they are making small changes in the name of safety.
Levels Bar & Grill Manager, Ashley Levandoski says, “Ain’t no party like a Scranton party because the Scranton party don’t stop. With the whole virus thing going on we’re going to plastic cups so everything is disposable at that point.”
City officials are hopeful the parade is only delayed a couple of weeks, but they are prepared to push it back a few months.