As the spread of the novel coronavirus reached a pandemic, gatherings across the U.S. meant to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day were canceled in an effort to slow the spread of the deadly disease.
But those hoping to still take part in Irish-themed revelry can look no further than their computer or smartphone.
The Milwaukee Irish Fest is hosting a Virtual St. Patrick’s Day celebration “to put a little fun, joy and entertainment on your news feeds,” the event’s organizers said.
Officials with the Irish Fest, which takes place in August and is the largest Irish event in North America, said it would be posting live streams, artist-curated videos, Irish Fest throwback videos as well as re-share others participating in the digital holiday by using the hashtag “virtualstpaddysday.”
IrishCentral, a U.S.-based Irish digital media company, will feature the live streams on its website and social media platforms. The partnership to bring the celebration to as many people as possible was a no brainer, New York Editor Kerry O’Shea told InsideEdition.com.
“A lot of people, Irish or not, love and look forward to St. Patrick’s Day. Celebrating it remotely can be a day of fun in otherwise unsettling times,” O’Shea said. “IrishCentral is dedicated to bringing Irish news, culture and craic [the Irish word for ‘fun’] to the masses and that shouldn’t and won’t stop just because you can’t get to a parade or pub on March 17.”
The spread of the novel coronavirus led to unprecedented cancelations and postponements of long-standing St. Patrick’s Day events across the country and the world. Some St. Patrick’s Day enthusiasts at first appeared to not be dissuaded by concerns about the spread of the virus, insisting that events go on as planned. It soon became clear that the decision to stay home was not up for discussion.
Parade organizers in Chicago and Boston canceled their parades, as were all parades scheduled to take place in Ireland. New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the largest in the world, was among those postponed, marking the first time in more than 250 years that the celebration would be delayed.
“At first the response was kind of split,” O’Shea said. “Some people accepted it, while others seemed convinced it was all being over-hyped. But as the data continues to come in I think people are finally starting to get the message that this is real.
“For me personally, I was sad, of course, but it’s all for the greater good so you’ve just got to roll with it and trust that authorities are making the right calls,” she continued.
Like the Milwaukee Irish Fest and IrishCentral, Guinness set out to put its fan base at ease over the change in plan. The Dublin-based beer announced in a video it has committed $500,000 through its Guinness Gives Back Fund to help communities in the wake of the coronavirus. Guinness also urged people to keep each other in mind when deciding how to celebrate this year’s St. Patrick’s Day.
“We know that St. Patrick’s Day feels different this year,” Guinness said. “But we’ve been around for 260 years and learned over time that we’re pretty tough when we stick together. However you choose to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year, stay safe and be good to one another.”