Organizers announced Thursday night that the annual Greater Manassas St. Patrick’s Day Parade, planned for Saturday, would be canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Vincent Fitzpatrick, president of Inisfail, Inc., the parade’s organizer, told InsideNoVa that the parade was canceled and a statement was forthcoming on its website.
Just hours earlier, the organizers were planning to go ahead with the parade as planned, encouraging anybody feeling symptoms to stay home. Gov. Ralph Northam declared a statewide emergency Thursday afternoon and advised Virginians to avoid large gatherings as Virginia’s tally of confirmed Coronavirus cases rose from nine Wednesday to 17 on Thursday.
Historic Manassas, which held the ABC permit to allow public alcohol consumption in Old Town on Saturday, withdrew the permit Thursday afternoon.
“We’d rather not be the people facilitating that right now,” Historic Manassas Executive Director Debbie Haight said, adding that the organization could not cancel the parade itself as the parade permit was held by the private group of organizers.
Still, Mayor Hal Parrish said Thursday afternoon that he hoped the parade would still take place. The cancellation announcement came after an evening meeting of parade organizers.
Haight said businesses in the area were expressing concern over all the business that would be lost without the parade and people staying home, fearful of contracting or spreading the coronavirus.
She said the 12 ABC permits Historic Manassas can use throughout the year would be used strategically to boost business once the virus recedes. Last year, when the weather was good, businesses reported a significant increase in revenue from the open container events.
“If the parade is canceled, that is a huge downturn for [downtown businesses], there’s no doubt that they count on that day, they look forward to that day not just in terms of food sales but the merchandise sales as well,” Haight said “I feel really bad that this is happening to our downtown because that’s economic development that you can’t always get back … But those crowds that came to the downtown [for open-container events] were a tremendous impact to our businesses and being able now to say that we have this in our tool chest is an opportunity for some of that to come back.”