ROANOKE, Va. – The future of one of Roanoke’s most notable traditions is still murky for 2021.
The Roanoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade was one of the first major events canceled when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in America last year. Downtown Roanoke, Inc. stated it is still too soon to decide if any St. Patrick’s ay events can happen this year, considering social distancing guidelines.
“To think that we’re here the next year and still not be sure what things are looking like is challenging, but we’re trying to be positive,” said Downtown Roanoke, Inc. marketing manager Jaime Clark. “It was the right decision to cancel last year, but it was very hard nonetheless.”
Clark said the organization has learned a lot about hosting socially-distant events in the past year, as evidenced by their execution of Dickens of a Christmas.
“Being able to host something felt really good,” Clark said. “Obviously, we spread it out so people could come down here.”
However, St. Patrick’s Day is the main event downtown business owners like Arton Williams look forward to.
“The businesses here invest so much, and at the last minute last year they pulled the rug under our feet and said they were going to cancel everything for St. Patrick’s,” said Williams, who owns Jamaican restaurant Caribbica Soul on Market Street. “It’s one of the biggest money-makers down here. I hope and I pray they find some way, some solution.”
Clark said if a plan does come together, they now have possibilities on how it can be done.
“We’re trying to figure out, like we did with Dickens, is there a way we can pivot?” Clark said. “Obviously we had to make a lot of changes and cancellations to events. It’s just adaptability, trying to think on your feet and do whatever you can.”