Coronavirus: Newark St. Patrick's Day Parade expected to step off despite COVID-19 concerns

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Many organizations have canceled large gatherings because of concern over the spread of the novel coronavirus, but in Newark, officials say their St. Patrick's Day Parade will go on as planned.

Still, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said they are advising people to avoid packed in events before and after the parade.

The ceremonial green line has been drawn for the 85th annual parade.

"I think most folks are looking forward to a great parade," grand marshal Michael Byrne said. "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 city signed off on moving forward, encouraging people to come while paying attention though to all the hygiene advice health departments are recommending.

Some businesses are feeling the pinch, 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 says he is 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."

Organizers are preparing, anticipating all their arrangements will come through.

"Here we are, so proud of who we are and where we came from and where we are today," deputy grand marshal Eileen McGinley said.

Dozens of organizations have signed up for the parade, and organizers say that so far, no one has canceled.

----------
* Get Eyewitness News Delivered
* More New Jersey news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Copyright © 2020 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.