DENVER — The City of Denver and parade organizers announced Tuesday morning that the St. Patrick's Day parade won't happen this weekend due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
The new strain of coronavirus began popping up in the U.S. in February. On March 5, the first case was announced in Colorado.
The Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee - a team of more than 150 volunteers - had spent a year preparing for the event.
"Because of the weather this year, we were expecting 400,000 spectators, if not more," said Elizabeth Price, the chairperson for the Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee.
The ultimate decision to cancel came Tuesday after more presumptive positive cases were announced in Colorado. Price said the decision was very hard for the planning committee, but they believe it was the right call.
"The spectators and participants who come to our parade are the most important part of our parade and we’re just not willing to risk them" Price said Tuesday, just an hour after the parade's cancellation was announced.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and the president of the parade committee issued a joint statement.
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“Following discussions with public health officials at the city and at the urging of the Mayor during consultation yesterday and this morning, the Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee has made the tough decision to cancel this year’s parade due to the on-going situation surrounding COVID-19," the statement reads in part.
The parade was set to take place on Saturday. As recently as Monday, Hancock said it was still a go.
But 17 people in Colorado tested presumptive positive for the novel coronavirus since Friday. The cancellation came on the same day that Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) declared a state of emergency to aid in response to the virus and help contain it.
“The city continues to closely monitor and coordinate efforts currently underway to respond to and prepare for cases of COVID-19," the statement on the parade cancellation says. "Our highest priority during this response is to both protect and prepare our residents for any potential risk to public health and safety as this situation continues to evolve."
On Wednesday, Olde Town Arvada announced it would also be canceling its St. Patrick's Day celebration scheduled for March 14.
"Keeping in line with other communities that are putting everyone’s health at the top of the list, Olde Town Arvada is choosing to exercise an abundance of caution to do our part in containing COVID-19," a release from organizers says.
As more testing kits become available and more people are tested more cases of the virus are expected in Colorado, according to state health officials.
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