St. Patrick's Day Parade Montreal

Photo by Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose

Yes, Montreal deserves its St. Patrick’s Day Parade

After two years of cancellations, the event that has livened up the city’s pre-spring streets for nearly 200 years is going forward on March 20.

The status of the 197th St. Patrick’s Parade in Montreal has just been confirmed by the United Irish Societies of Montreal. As per tradition, the parade will take place on March 20, the first Sunday after the official holiday on March 17 — but with participation limited to 500 people, down from the usual 3,000 to 4,000. The event will go down just six days after the province drops almost all pandemic restrictions. 

Holidays just haven’t felt the same recently. Over the past two years in Quebec, ever-changing restrictions and public safety regulations issued by the provincial government with regards to the pandemic have impeded us from enjoying any festivities to the fullest. Christmas and New Year’s were spent with small circles or none at all. Surgical masks accompanied costume masks on Halloween night. The Easter Bunny was prohibited from entering our homes (no outside guests allowed), and, depending on the time of year, any celebration was nearly impossible with an evening curfew in place. After everything our province has been through in recent years, one thing is certain: Montreal deserves its St. Patrick’s Day Parade. 

When Doom’s Day hit Quebec on March 13, 2020 and the world as we knew it ended. The St. Paddy’s Parade was the first major city event to get cancelled as the province underwent a “two-week” lockdown. This cancellation was the first in the parade’s history since its start in 1824 — it’s the oldest and largest St. Patrick’s Parade in Canada. Inevitably, the parade was also a no-go in 2021. 

On March 14, 2022, nearly all public health restrictions in Quebec will be dropped, save for the province’s mask mandates. Vaccine passports will no longer be in effect, restaurants and bars can stay open until 3 a.m., and all businesses, including concert venues, can return to full capacity. If we are truly trying to get back to normal and “live with the virus”, allowing the St. Paddy’s Day Parade to take place feels like another step in the right direction.

The parade will aid in a much-needed resurrection of the downtown scene. Bars, restaurants and dépanneurs might see their most profitable day in years. As summer events like Osheaga and Ile Soniq receive a greenlight, it is only right that at a time where daily case numbers and rates of outdoor transmission are low, the parade be given its Irish greenlight as well. 

If not for the downtown businesses that could use the uptick in sales, going forward with the parade will provide real reassurance that the city is returning to normal. After all, events like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade are what make Montreal exciting in the first place.  

Above all else, the return of the parade, even in its scaled back form, will give Montrealers a much-needed morale boost — we certainly could use it after all we’ve been through. ■

For more about the 197th annual Montreal St. Patrick’s Day Parade, please visit the United irish Societies of Montreal website.

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