Update – January 25, 2021. The Newport Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Committee shared the following on their Facebook Page, “Understandably, the Mayor of Newport has decided that the Parade will not take place on March 13th due to COVID uncertainties.  We have requested September 25th as the new date for the Parade.  Hope to see you all there!”


Original Story: January 6 – Will the Newport Saint Patrick’s Day Parade happen in 2021? Local leaders share their thoughts

What’s going to happen to the Newport Saint Patrick’s Day Parade this year?

It’s still more than two months out, but we’ve gotten the question a lot. What’s Up Newp this week reached out to local leaders to see how they are feeling right now about the event, which is scheduled for Saturday, March 13.

“With the slow distribution (of the COVID-19 vaccine), it doesn’t appear that we would be ready by March. This is unfortunate as I think everyone had such high hopes that we would have had the vaccination by then,” Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano told What’s Up Newp via email on Sunday.

As of Tuesday evening, Governor Gina Raimondo announced that they have administered second doses to the first 400 people to be vaccinated in Rhode Island. As of Tuesday morning, they have administered 26,163 doses of the vaccine in Rhode Island. Governor Raimondo wrote in a vaccine update newsletter on Tuesday evening that “we are limited by our supply. Right now, we’re receiving 14,000 doses each week – enough for just over 1% of our population”.

Dennis Sullivan from the Newport St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee told What’s Up via email on Monday, “From our standpoint, we plan on going on March 13, 2021, if the City and State let us. If not, we alternatively want to have one in September, if again the City and State say yes. Otherwise, we will probably forgo the year”.

Across the country, Syracuse, Philadelphia, and Savannah are among the communities to already officially cancel their St. Patrick’s Day Parade and festivities.

What’s Up Newp followed up with Mayor Napolitano following Sullivan’s thoughts on moving the parade to September if March wasn’t deemed possible, Napolitano said “we would love to do it in September if it’s possible. It would be different and I realize that it’s not our tradition, but it would be different and fun”. Napolitano continued, “The vaccine is just taking too long to roll out, and I don’t see how, at this time, it would be possible to host the parade in March”.

Evan Smith, President & CEO of Discover Newport, shared with What’s Up Newp on Wednesday in an email that he has “hoped and prayed (yes prayed) that we would not have to start the cycle of canceling events again this year, yet as we approach the start of another annual cycle I am concerned about what resources event organizers and community leaders have that will assist them to develop operational safety plans, particularly for the larger events where so distancing is more challenging”.

Discover Newport is the non-profit destination management organization dedicated to the promotion of the City of Newport and its eight surrounding townships in Newport and Bristol Counties.

“The Winter Festival has already decided to wait until 2022. Next up the St Patrick’s day parade,” Smith continued. “We have not been part of any discussions about this challenge yet, but looking at the national landscape, many events in other cities are being pushed back later in the year to allow for a higher percentage of vaccinations to occur. It kind of begs the question, ‘should we have the St Patrick’s day parade later this year’?”

Smith concluded, “I/we believe that event organizers & elected officials will need to make hard decisions based on the best medical knowledge and scientific research available in the best interest of residents & visitors alike”.

The 64th Annual Newport Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, which was scheduled for March 14, 2020, was canceled just days before it was scheduled to take place. It was the first major local event in Newport County to be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. For many restaurants and businesses on Aquidneck Island, Parade Day is routinely their busiest revenue day of the year.

New guidance and restrictions from Governor Gina Raimondo and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) took effect on December 21, 2020, until further notice. Among the restrictions in the current guidance, social gathering size is limited to one household, bar areas are to be closed, restaurants are limited to 50% capacity, and indoor and outdoor venues of assembly are limited to no more than 125 people being present at the event or venue.

As of Tuesday, RIDOH reported a total of 93,852 positive cases, 2,059,444 total tests, and 1,870 fatalities since the start of the pandemic. On Tuesday, NBC News reported Arizona, California, and Rhode Island are among the hardest-hit places in the world at this stage of the pandemic, with the highest rates of Covid-19 infections per capita.

On October 18, the Newport Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Committee announced on Facebook that the Grand Marshal of the 2021 St. Patrick’s Day Parade would be James “Jimmy” Winters. The Parade will be dedicated to the memory of Thomas Peter Lalli (1953 – 2019), who the committee says is “missed dearly by friends and family”.

Marketing & Events, Inc., the organizers of the annual Newport Winter Festival, today announced the cancellation of the 2020 edition of the festival, scheduled for February 12 – 21.

What’s Up Newp reached out to Newport City Manager Joe Nicholson on Sunday for comment. We’ll update this story if we receive a response.

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Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).