The march, which was not announced, was intended to keep the 258-year-old tradition alive.
We're used to seeing an estimated two million people line Fifth Avenue but this year there was roughly a dozen people quietly making their way up the avenue to the Irish American Historical Society. They held the traditional parade banner.
"This would have been our 259th parade consecutively, so we've been through the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, The Great Depression and now obviously we are dealing with the coronavirus now," said Sean Lane, New York St. Patrick's Day Parade board chair.
The city was aware the St. Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration Committee planned the early morning march, and an official said the organizers agreed to a group of less than 50 due to coronavirus recommendations.
It would have put too many people at risk, especially the elderly and first responders.
"It's very important that we don't endanger them above all," Lane said.
The group posted video of the march.
Inside St. Patrick's Cathedral was a Catholic mass for a much smaller group than normal, available via livestream.
As many people work from home the Catholic Church is encouraging people to pray from home as well.
"We are used to seeing this church, this magnificent cathedral of St. Patrick, packed with people. We are used to seeing Fifth Avenue teeming with bands and horses and marchers. So there is a bit of an eeriness, but as you reminded us we are not alone. We are together in the solidarity of faith," New York Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan said.
The online viewership for Sunday's mass "skyrocketed" as parishioners adjust to this temporary new reality.
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