Coronavirus: Newark St. Patrick's Day Parade canceled amid COVID-19 concerns

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Newark has canceled its annual St. Patrick's Day Parade amid concerns of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, one day after organizers expressed hope the event would go off as planned.

The ceremonial green line had already been drawn for the 85th annual event, with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy advising people to avoid packed in events before and after the parade.

But in the end, city officials made the decision to avoid the large gathering of people.

"I think most folks are looking forward to a great parade," grand marshal Michael Byrne said Wednesday. "The weather's been improving. I think people are looking to get out of the house and enjoy a sunny day on the streets of Newark."

The news is disappointing for those who were counting on the event to make up for lost business, including Kilkenny's Irish Pub owner Robert Lynch.

"A company, Audible, they're around the corner, they have 700 employees, they told everyone to stay home," he said. "Rutgers is leaving next week. NJIT is leaving this week for spring break, but they're not coming back until April 3...Right now it's slow. Things are slow. I'm going to have to make serious adjustments, I do believe, after St. Patrick's Day."

He said he was looking forward to the parade.

"That's my busiest day of the year," he said. "I expect to have a very healthy crowd here. The weather is going to be nice, so hopefully everyone will come down."

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