Entertainment News

Virus Forces Cancellation of St. Patrick’s Day Parade

By Guy D’Astolfo

Concern over the spread of COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of the Mahoning Valley St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which was to be begin at 1 p.m. March 15 in Boardman.

“In the wake of mounting fears regarding [the virus], this decision has been made as a precautionary measure for the safety of our community,” reads a statement from the parade committee.

Casey Malone, president of the committee, noted that St. Patrick’s Day parades in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and other cities have also been canceled. The committee’s post-parade party at the Mahoning County Operating Engineers Hall has also been canceled.

The parade, which is in its 42nd year, is one of the largest in Ohio, drawing upward of 25,000 people to the route along Market Street.

This is the first time it has ever been canceled.

“About 20 years ago it was postponed due to a blizzard, and it took place the following Sunday,” said Malone. “So it has never been canceled, only postponed.”

The post-parade party at the Magic Tree in Boardman will continue as planned, said a spokesman at the restaurant, noting the facility will be disinfected before the event.

Attendance at ticketed entertainment events is always optional and so far almost everything scheduled in the next week at Valley venues will proceed as planned. One exception is the March 18 presentation by Bill Nye at Stambaugh Auditorium, sponsored by Youngstown State University, which has been canceled.

YSU students are currently on spring break and as a precautionary measure, the university has extended the break through March 22 and canceled all indoor, campus-related events and gatherings until March 30.

The next concert in Youngstown is the March 12 appearance by Christian pop act Newsboys at Stambaugh Auditorium, and it will go on as planned, with measures being taken to minimize risk.

“Stambaugh Auditorium is putting every available resource into making sure the facility is constantly being cleaned and disinfected throughout its rotation of events,” said Michael McGiffin, spokesman for the venue. “ We ask that everyone help prevent the spread of illness by following the CDC’s recommendations.”

Those recommendations deal with hand-washing, sneezing, touching the face, avoiding contact with those who are ill and staying home if ill.

Another event at Stambaugh has been postponed. The Youngstown Area Grocers annual Beer and Wine Tasting March 14 at the Stambaugh ballroom is being postponed until May 29. Tickets that have been purchased will be honored on the new date, according to a press release from the group.

All scheduled events at Packard Music Hall in Warren and Covelli Centre will proceed as planned. These include  Youngstown Phantoms hockey games March 13 and 14, and the WWE wrestling show March 15, all at Covelli.

“We have heightened awareness of the growing concerns surrounding COVID-19 and are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of all patrons,” reads a statement released by JAC Management, which operates both facilities.

“We will be providing additional hand sanitizing stations throughout our facility as well as enhanced way-finding signage that will direct patrons to these stations. We will continue to employ industrial grade cleaning supplies throughout our facility and will ensure that all surfaces have been properly sanitized.

“At this time all events will occur as planned and if any changes arise we will continue to notify the public and ticket purchasers.”

Oh Wow! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology in Youngstown will also remain open.

“We are meeting the CDC guidelines and we’ve always done that,” said Executive Director Suzanne Barbati. “We have a crew that cleans every day and disinfects throughout the day, and we have added another layer, a disinfecting task, in which we use Clorox wipes on doorknobs, light switches, anything people would touch on a regular basis, including flat survaces where people sit to eat, and we encourage guests to wash their hands. We decided not to close in large part because people choose to come here, and are not required to.”

The coming weekend and March 17 will see several large St. Patrick’s Day parties, and so far none have been canceled.

Kravitz Deli in Liberty has added features for those who just want to purchase reuben sandwiches and avoid crowds. Grill it yourself sandwiches will be sold on March 16, and a food truck will sell the items in the parking lot on St. Patrick’s Day.

The next scheduled event at the DeYor Performing Arts Center is a Youngstown Symphony Orchestra concert on March 21, which means the venue does not have to take any action at this time.

“The coronavirus crisis has presented unprecedented circumstances,” said Patricia Syak, president of the Youngstown Symphony Society, which owns and operates the facility. “[We] will continue to monitor information sites in order to stay apprised of the situation and will be following the recommendations of healthcare professionals and  government agencies. We are hopeful that in the coming days there will  be more clarity into the nature and scope of the situation.”

At Westminster College, the April 4 performance of “I Am, He Said: A Celebration of the Music of Neil Diamond” has been postponed due to concerns about coronavirus. The concert will be rescheduled at a later date, said Connie McGinnis, director of the Celebrity Series at the New Wilmington, Pa., college.

Westminster has also extended its spring break and moved to a temporary online instruction format. The college’s spring break has been extended through March 18. Beginning March 19, all classes will be held online until at least April 3, according to a statement from the college.

“While no cases of COVID-19 have been identified on Westminster’s campus, the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff are our highest priority,” said President Kathy Brittain Richardson in the statement. “Our campus task force members will continue to monitor this situation closely in the coming days.”

At the Robins Theatre in Warren, all scheduled events will go on as planned.

“We have been closely monitoring the ongoing concerns regarding COVID-19 and want to inform the community about how we are addressing the developing situation,” reads a statement from the theater. “Our No. 1 priority is the safety of our customers, employees, artists and vendors, and we immediately implemented precautions to ensure the safety of all.

“Our staff cleans the theater after every show, including restrooms, floors, bars and all surfaces. Staff members are trained in proper hygiene and appropriate cleaning measures. We have increased our normal procedures regarding sanitizing the restrooms, all frequently touched counter-tops, handrails, doorknobs, and armrests throughout our venue and backstage areas.

“We urge our patrons to follow the current guidelines from the CDC, which recommends that all those with compromised immune systems, the listed pre-existing conditions, and people not feeling well stay home, and if necessary, contact the appropriate medical experts. And of course, wash your hands often and thoroughly.

“At this time, all scheduled performances are taking place. Artists, partners and agents have not informed us of any plans to cancel or postpone any event. Obviously, the decision to avoid crowds is a decision that one must make individually. If you are not feeling well, we encourage you to stay home.

“As this is rapidly changing situation, we will closely monitor developments and provide timely updates as necessary.”

Posted March 11, 2020

Copyright 2020 AfterHoursYoungstown.com, Youngstown, Ohio.

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