Organizers upset after Belmar cancels 2021 St. Patrick’s parade
One of the last big events to take place in 2020 before pandemic restrictions were implemented will not happen in 2021 with the cancellation of Belmar's annual St. Patrick's Day parade.
The parade, which was scheduled for Sunday, March 7, was canceled by the Belmar Borough Council during Tuesday night's meeting, according to parade chairman Chip Cavanaugh.
"We actually didn't make the decision. I got notified like everyone else last night that the town canceled the parade," Cavanuagh told New Jersey 101.5. "I would like to have been talked to before I found out from phone calls that Belmar canceled it. I would like to have seen about some alternative dates or worked on something else to see what we could do.
Cavanaugh said that with the release of the coronavirus vaccines and conditions changing "maybe it could have still happened."
It would be nearly impossible to hold a parade under the current executive order issued by Gov. Phil Murphy because of the pandemic which limits outdoor gatherings to 25 people with social distancing being practiced.
Discussion about the parade does not appear on the agenda for Tuesday night's meeting posted to the borough website. Mayor Mark Walsifer, municipal Clerk April Claudio and members of the Borough Council did not return New Jersey 101.5's requests for comment on Wednesday.
Cavanaugh understands the pandemic makes most large gatherings hard to hold. A shortened version of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade was held in Manhattan and the public was not invited to the annual Times Square ball drop on New Year's Eve. The Jets and Giants played their home games at MetLife Stadium without any fans present and Toms River canceled its annual Halloween parade as well.
"I really understand that we have to be safe with all this," Cavanaugh said, stressing that the parade committee wants to do things safely. At the same time many groups are dependent on the parade.
"A lot of the pipe bands are kept alive by doing these parades and collecting fees. It's a tough thing to swallow a little bit," Cavanaugh said.
As for an alternate version of the parade, Cavanaugh said that's still under discussion but hopes that something will take place to mark the occasion of the 48th anniversary.
"It's always been a tradition. I'll figure out something we can do within the safe guidelines of the state," Cavanaugh said.
The Jersey Shore's other St. Patrick Day Parades appear to be up in the air. The Ocean County St. Patrick's Day Parade in Seaside Heights plus events in Asbury Park and Keyport have not announced 2021 dates on their websites or social media.
Philadelphia announced on Tuesday that it's annual parade and all related events have been canceled for this year due to the pandemic.