The hashtag #RTEVirtualParade has became a riot of St. Patrick’s Day revelry since Ireland’s national broadcaster, RTE, urged people to post footage of their improvised, isolated celebrations on social media. (S Keogh Twitter photo)

‘Virtual parades’ trending as virus dampens St. Patrick’s Day revels around the world

#RTEVirtualParade hashtag a riot of flag-waving family processions, pets in green, Irish dancing

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations around the world have fallen victim to the new coronavirus — but even a pandemic could not quash the desire to celebrate the colour green, Guinness and all things Irish.

Parades and parties were cancelled around the globe Tuesday as governments imposed restrictions on human contact to slow the spread of the virus.

Irish authorities called off Dublin’s parade, which usually draws half a million revelers into the streets of the capital city, and pleaded with people not to congregate at house parties. Thousands of pubs across Ireland have been closed as part of measures to fight COVID-19, tens of thousands of pints of Guinness will go un-poured and 140,000 people who work in pubs, restaurants and childcare are unemployed, at least temporarily.

But even in a time of social distancing and self-isolation, the desire to mark the day bloomed.

Ireland’s national broadcaster, RTE, urged people to post footage of their improvised, isolated celebrations on social media. The hashtag #RTEVirtualParade soon became a riot of flag-waving family processions, pets in green, white and orange tricolours and children performing Irish dancing.

ALSO READ: B.C. legislature to reopen with fewer MLAs to tackle COVID-19

Peter Hynes, a dairy farmer in County Cork, southwest Ireland, assembled his family for a makeshift procession through the farmyard that included a child in a wheelbarrow, a calf, a pony, a quad bike and a young man banging a bucket as a drum.

“We just kind of grabbed whatever we could use as props,” said Hynes, who lives on the farm with his wife and three daughters aged 6 to 16. “We just wanted to fly the Irish flag around the world, because that’s what’s done on St. Patrick’s Day every year.

“We didn’t think it would get the reaction it did. But to see the messages coming from Italy and Spain and Australia, and people in quarantine — it just put a smile on their face. That’s all we wanted to do.”

In the U.K., London’s St. Patrick’s Day festival in Trafalgar Square was called off, and the government urged Britons not to visit bars and restaurants but did not formally shut them down.

In the U.S., New York’s giant parade was cancelled for the first time in its 258-year history. Other cities including Chicago and Boston also scrapped their long-established parades.

ALSO READ: Tory deputy leader apologizes for comparing Pride, St. Patrick’s Day parades

Still, landmarks around the world, including Sydney Opera House, the London Eye and The Colosseum in Rome, were lit up in green as part of Tourism Ireland’s “Global Greening” project.

“We hope our Global Greening will bring a little positivity and hope to people everywhere and remind them that, if we all do the right thing now by following advice of our medical experts, this crisis will pass,” said chief executive Niall Gibbons.

In his annual St. Patrick’s Day message, Irish President Michael D. Higgins urged people to show “solidarity and concern for the well-being of our fellow citizens” as they marked the country’s patron saint.

“St Patrick’s Day has become a profound expression of a common history that extends far beyond Irish shores,” he said. “As members of that global community, we must commit to working in a spirit of solidarity and co-operation, joining with citizens across the world in fighting this global health emergency.”

Jill Lawless reported from London.

Peter Morrison And Jill Lawless, The Associated Press

ALSO READ: Thousands come out for St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Market Square

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Interior Health issues alert following confirmed COVID-19 case on WestJet flight

The public exposure alert comes following the March 21 WestJet flight from Calgary to Kamloops

Some big city shoppers heading to small towns to stock up

With the cupboard bare in many large centres, shoppers are flocking to places like Ashcroft

Bail granted to man charged in killing at Cache Creek home

Corey Harkness, 32, is charged with one count of second-degree murder

COVID-19 information: Transfer stations, Eco-Depots limit loads

Extend driver’s licences online, stay safe outdoors, get municipal government information, and more

Trudeau announces 75% wage subsidy for small businesses amid COVID-19

This is up from the previously announced 10 per cent wage subsidy

World update, 9:30 p.m. March 27: Positive news in Korea as U.S. hits 100,000 cases

The United States now has the most coronavirus cases of any country in the world

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

67 more B.C. COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Vancouver region

Positive tests found in Surrey, Langley long-term care facilities

‘Now is not the time to bag that peak’: BCSAR manager discourages risky outdoor adventures

Call volumes are not going down, even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists

Food Banks BC already seeing surge in demand due to COVID-19 pandemic

Executive director Laura Lansink said they expect applications will keep increasing

Nanaimo couple caught aboard cruise ship with four dead and COVID-19 present

Four ‘older guests’ have died on Holland America’s Zaandam; cruise line confirms two COVID-19 cases

Frontline workers receiving COVID-19 isolation exemptions prompt concerns

Provincial Health Authority staff exempt from self-isolation upon return from international travel

Most Read