The coronavirus pandemic has claimed another victim this year — Long Beach’s annual Saint Brendan the Navigator Irish Heritage Day Parade and Festival, which has drawn thousands of people to the city in the past.
The event, which would have celebrated its 31st year, is hosted in the West End early each fall by the Ancient Order of the Hibernians Division 17 of Long Beach.
A statement from the Hibernians concluded, “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and New York State regulations, this event simply cannot be held on its scheduled date of October 3, 2020.”
Despite the disappointment, organizers tipped their hats to businesses and visitors who have supported the event in the past. “We would like to thank all the people who have attended and supported the Parade and Festival for the past 30 years,” the statement read. “We would also like to thank the Long Beach West End businesses, restaurants and our many street vendors that have participated in the past and made this annual event so successful.”
The Cafe, on West BeechStreet, was one of the businesses that was looking forward to Irish Day. Co-owner Candy McLaughlin praised the tradition, but said she was disappointed about the lost opportunity to bring in revenue during the festivities.
“It’s the one day of the year where businesses could make a substantial amount of income for one day,” McLaughlin said. “That’s what helps many businesses stay open during the winter. That’s how important Irish Day was.”
The Cafe, which opened shortly before the pandemic hit the U.S., was hoping for a big Irish Day boost from Irish Day. McLaughlin, a longtime Long Beach resident, said she wouldn’t let the Covid-19 crisis ruin the tradition. The restaurant, she said, would still have an Irish Day-themed menu next Saturday, and the staff would be dressed in green to keep the spirit of the event alive.
“Irish Day was something my friends and family would look forward to every year,” McLaughlin said. “We would hear the bagpipes and we knew Irish Day was here, and now the sadness and effect of Covid-19 has burdened the city and people once again.”
Leah Tozer, vice chairwoman of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, said the organization was working with the city to come up with other initiatives to help local businesses. The chamber, Tozer said, understands that people have to follow the state’s guidelines amid the pandemic. She also noted the community’s effort to help local business owners during a difficult time.
“The community at large has really come out and has been supporting our local businesses,” she said. “It shows the resilience of our local business owners. We have a very special group of business owners.”
The Hibernians, in the meantime, were already thinking ahead to next year’s festivities. “We hope you will join us next year, on Saturday, October 2, 2021,” their statement read, “when we hope to continue the tradition of the St. Brendan the Navigator Irish Heritage Day Parade and Festival.”