Downtown business owners react to cancellation of St. Patrick’s Day Parade

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DENVER (KDVR) – Denver’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is billed as the largest parade west of the Mississippi. However, this year's parade has been canceled due to concerns about the coronavirus.

It would have been the parade’s 58th year. 

Theresa Melaragno, president of the Denver St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee, and Mayor Michael B. Hancock issued the following statement Tuesday:

“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 health and safety of parade participants and attendees is our highest priority every year, and the call to cancel the 2020 parade was made out of an abundance of caution to ensure that we are doing our part to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 to those who join us every year to celebrate this annual tradition. We thank the parade sponsors, participants and hundreds of volunteers who put in countless hours of their time to celebrate our city and our Irish heritage. Sláinte.”

Business owners have mixed opinions about the decision.

John Nallen, owner of Nallen’s Irish Pub in Lower Downtown, disagreed with the decision to cancel the parade.

“Been down here 26 years. First time we’ve ever seen something like this. It’s pretty sad. I do kind of understand it. But I also have to think maybe we overreact sometimes too, you know. I think it’s a real disaster for the businesses down here. I’m not just talking about Irish pubs, I’m talking about all businesses down here. Everybody makes money off it so it’s pretty sad," he said.

Others say they understand the city’s decision.

Wil Evans owns Society Sports Bar.

“I don’t disagree with the decision. We’re just lamenting the financial aspect of it. This is the first thing that’s happened to all of us from coronavirus that is actually an effect. First, they take all my toilet paper, then my hand sanitizer, now they’ve taken the St. Patrick’s Day Parade away from me. I’m upset. We’re all upset," he said.

Evans says he will do about 1/5 of the business he was expecting to do on Saturday.

“That’s just a disaster financially," he said.

They are trying to take the news in stride. They are still inviting people to come celebrate downtown, reminding people they clean and sanitize multiple times every day. And they said they will have specials to get rid of the food and alcohol they ordered.

“We’re sitting on a lot of Bushmill, Jameson and more Guinness than you can shake a leprechaun at, so we’re going to do our own St. Patrick’s Day thing, Nallens, Celtic, Society Sports, it’s going to be a party," Evans said.

In the war against the virus, Main Street and Wall Street are hurting as people try to stay healthy.

B Gottwald is trying to get his sharing economy rental startup, The Shed, off the ground. He was hoping to introduce Denver to his brand on Saturday during the parade with a box truck showing what people can rent from him.

“It was just going to be a moving billboard for us in front of thousands of people,” he said.

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