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Businesses react to North Charleston St. Patrick’s Day festival cancellation

Staff //March 12, 2020//

Businesses react to North Charleston St. Patrick’s Day festival cancellation

Staff //March 12, 2020//

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North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey has canceled the city’s St. Patrick’s Day block party and parade scheduled for Saturday in Park Circle as concerns about the new coronavirus continue to rise.

“It’s something we look forward to every year. I don’t think anyone enjoys it more than I do,” Summey said in a video announcing the decision Thursday morning. “But in precaution for the safety of our citizens being in an environment that is close and people breathing all over each other, just as a risk factor, I don’t know if it’s worth us taking that risk.”

Summey said the city will look to replace the St. Patrick’s Day event with a different event this summer to help businesses who rely on the block party and parade for revenue.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control said it has tested a total of 51 individuals for COVID-19 as of Wednesday, with eight presumptive positive cases and two confirmed cases.

“Our top priorities remain preventing spread of the disease and protecting public health,” state epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said in a statement. “Our systems for protecting public health are working. We’re continuing to work with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and our state and local partners, however, based on what’s occurring in other states and countries, we expect community spread to grow.”

Summey said North Charleston is closely monitoring reports about COVID-19 to figure out the best way to respond.

“None of us really know exactly what’s going on,” Summey said. “None of us know how quickly we’ll come to a conclusion, how quickly we’ll find something to deal with this. It will happen, we just don’t know how quickly.”

Liz Rennie, owner of The Charleston Mattress in Park Circle, said North Charleston’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival is a great way to showcase that part of the community. But businesses in the area respect the city’s decision to cancel the festivities because it is in the best interest of public health, she said.

Although her company takes part in the St. Patrick’s Day Festival activities, Rennie said she thinks the event has a different impact on the food and beverage industries.

Hank Hanna, owner of Commonhouse Aleworks in Park Circle, said the St. Patrick’s Day Festival is a big part of the business they do in the spring. Commonhouse is located in the heart of Park Circle’s business district, so the festival normally happens all around the location.

Hanna said Commonhouse will not have the revenue volume it typically gets during the festival, but he knows the decision made by the city and mayor to cancel was not taken lightly.

As an alternative to the canceled festivities, the establishment will host an “Ain’t Patrick’s Day” event on Saturday. Commonhouse will be open during regular hours, and there will be live music.

“It’s important to note that everybody be aware of the situation with a balanced mindset with understanding that our staff and business relies on people getting out and visiting with us,” Hanna said.

He said that he never wants to put anyone in a precarious situation but that if people are feeling well and want to come out, Commonhouse needs the patronage now more than ever.

Kyle Lahm, director of North Charleston’s cultural arts department, said there are too many unknowns with the COVID-19 virus for the city to make plans for any future events. But a lot of the businesses that participate in the festival will be open Saturday and hosting live music and other activities, she said.

Sponsors have also agreed to suspend the plans of both St. Patrick’s Day parades scheduled for Tuesday in Charleston. The Ancient Order of Hibernians Division I parade and the Hibernian Society parade have been canceled.

More information about Charleston’s efforts related to COVID-19 can be found online.