ROANOKE, Va. – Downtown Roanoke will be less crowded on Saturday as Downtown Roanoke Inc. has canceled Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.
On Thursday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency due to the spread of COVID-19 and Roanoke leaders are heading the Governor’s caution. It’s disappointing to many, but DRI made the decision to help prevent the virus from spreading. There are still no confirmed cases in our area, but the case involving a Roanoke College student who may have been exposed while on a spring break trip is still pending. Roanoke College officials said that student is still in isolation at their off-campus apartment.
Despite that, DRI said safety is priority number one.
“We understand the disappointment from our businesses, community, and those who planned to travel here. We share in that disappointment not just for our organization and all the people who love this event but especially for our local businesses that may be impacted by this," the statement said. "We encourage everyone to support local businesses always, now more so than ever.
This is the first time the St. Patrick’s Day parade has been canceled in recent memory. The governor encouraged Virginians to avoid large crowds and for organizers to cancel events. The parade draws thousands to a few blocks of downtown Roanoke. But the local bars, some of which are throwing large outdoor block party events, said their shows will still go on.
Emily Laney is the general manager of Three Notch’d Roanoke. They sit on the corner of the market and generally see hundreds of people lined up right in front of their door to watch the parade go by. They prepared for the masses with extra food, drink, and staff, but she knows no parade crowd means they’re going to lose out on money.
“It’s a big weekend for Roanoke, so we definitely want to embrace that, but still be mindful of the seriousness of the situation,” Laney said.
Many were disappointed to learn the news about the cancelation of the event which is a staple in the Roanoke community.