Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day parades canceled because of coronavirus, but Rockford’s still on, organizer says

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ROCKFORD — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has canceled the city’s massive St. Patrick’s Day parades because of fears that the new coronavirus could spread through the dense crowds, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday.

But Rockford’s St. Patrick’s Day activities will go on as planned on Saturday, organizers and the city say.

“At this time, there are no recommendations to cancel public events, including the parade,” the city said in an email early Wednesday afternoon.

The city said it is working closely with the county health department and other local agencies to “monitor and assess this rapidly evolving situation.”

Danny McDade, president of the Irish Marching Society, which is presenting the parade and other activities, said the parade and PaddyFest activities afterward at the Prairie Street Brewhouse will go on as planned. That includes dyeing the Rock River green at 5 p.m. outside the business.

“We are not even balking,” McDade said. “It’s a green light.”

The Tribune said Lightfoot made her decision after days of speculation as other cities from Boston to Dublin scrapped plans for holiday festivities.

There have been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Winnebago County, unlike the Chicago area, McDade points out. As of Tuesday, 17 of the 19 confirmed cases of Illinois have been in Cook County, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The other two were in McHenry and Kane counties.

Georgette Braun: 815-987-1331; gbraun@rrstar.com; @GeorgetteBraun

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