The City of Milwaukee, Westown Association, and the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin made the unified decision to cancel the 54th Annual Shamrock Club of Wisconsin St. Patrick’s Day Parade scheduled for March 14, due to the growing concerns of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Parade organizers had been closely monitoring the situation and were following the direction of the Milwaukee Health Department and Center for Disease Control. A March 9 press release confirmed that the parade would go ahead as planned. But at state and local levels, in a reflection of how the national situation had quickly evolved, the Westown Association formally announce the cancelation of the event.

“The safety and health of our patrons and participants is always our priority,” said Stacie Callies, Executive Director of Westown Association. “This was a difficult decision, but all parties want to ensure we are doing our part to help prevent the spread of the disease. This decision was made out of abundant concern for the 30,000 people that come to downtown Milwaukee each year to celebrate with us.”

This year’s parade would have featured over 120 units including Irish dance groups, pipe and drum corps, local celebrities, and dignitaries. Milwaukee hosted one of the oldest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the nation, dating back to 1843. The Shamrock Club of Wisconsin has produced the parade since 1967 and has been in partnership with Westown Association since 2002.

“This was a challenging decision given the amount of planning and work that has gone into this event, which was to be the 60th Anniversary celebration of the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin,” said Mike Boyle, the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin Parade Director.

Boyle thanked all of the parade’s participants, volunteers, and patrons for their support of the event and the hard decision to cancel. The Westown Association and the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin are exploring the possibility of hosting the parade at a later date.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, the Milwaukee Independent has assembled images from the past four years of parades, beginning with the 50th in 2016, to produce this retrospective of the festive Irish spirit would normally saturate the main corridor of Downtown.