St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are going to be different yet again this year. It was the first holiday impacted by the nationwide shutdown last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the thought of going another year without St. Patty’s Day fun with family and friends is disappointing for many Wisconsinites, public health experts highly recommend restraining from the revelry. Many communities are following public safety protocols.

The City of New London has cancelled its St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which is part of an annual week-long celebration. However, the local Shamrock Club plans to keep alive some of its traditions. Its leprechauns are calling it their “COVID-19 Version.” They are still changing the community’s name to “New Dublin,” starting March 15, Leprechaun Day. Other festivities will be modified to protect participants’ health and safety. Organizers said, “Seating will be arranged to allow for social distancing and masks will be required per state and local mandates.”

Parades and other outdoor activities aside, most celebrations in the state happen indoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still advises to avoid crowded, poorly ventilated “indoor spaces that do not offer fresh air from the outdoors.” The agency adds, “If indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors.”

Even with more people being vaccinated, physicians say there is still a risk of being infected with the coronavirus, a more highly transmissible variant of it, or even potentially infecting another person. Health experts encourage Wisconsinites to avoid large gatherings and continue to celebrate with people in your own household only.

“Until there is widespread vaccination, or ‘community immunity’ for COVID-19, it is critical for Wisconsinites to continue wearing a mask, watching their distance from others and washing hands frequently to protect ourselves and those around us,” said Dr. Anthony Zeimet, Infectious Diseases Specialist, Ascension Medical Group Wisconsin, a Be Safe Wisconsin partner.

Adding to that point is Dr. Mark Cockley, Chief Clinical Officer and President of ThedaCare’s Clinically Integrated Network, another a Be Safe Wisconsin partner: “Even after being vaccinated, we know about 5 percent of people may still get sick with COVID-19, and potentially spread the virus while they are sick.”

Here are other suggestions to safely celebrate the holiday from home, or close to it.

  • Get in the Gaelic “mood.” Create a festive space in your home. Decorate your place in green and gold colors, shamrocks, and leprechauns – inside and outside. Check in virtually with friends or family doing the same and compete for best Irish décor.
  • Organize a neighborhood parade. The holiday celebrates belonging. Connect with neighbors in your subdivision and have them decorate their cars and trucks in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit. Line up at a designated time and drive through nearby streets, honking at the homes decorated in green and embracing the spirit of the day.
  • Watch a previous St. Patrick’s Day parade. Do a search on YouTube and discover a parade in another part of the country from 2019. Check out New York City or Boston Pretend you’re on the parade route all decked out in green garb, or watch the Chicago River being dyed green from year’s past – a long-time tradition there halted again his year.
  • Patronize Fox Cities restaurants and pubs offering Irish fare. Why spend hours in the kitchen cooking traditional dishes when local eateries are happy to do all the work for you from a distance. Get your plates ready at home for corned beef and cabbage, Reubens, Gouda and stout, Irish stew, Irish soda bread and more. Take-out and curbside pickup are available at most businesses.
  • Enjoy an online concert. Irish on The Avenue! It’s bringing live Irish music to many from the comfort of their homes. Listen to traditional, contemporary and rowdy pub tunes narrated by a popular storyteller, and then raise a pint while doing so.

The CDC reminds us, “Attending gatherings to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. The safest way to celebrate this year is to gather virtually, with people who live with you, or outside and at least 6 feet apart from others.”

Don’t forget to wear a mask and wash your hands, even if you’re fully vaccinated. Health experts predict it will be a few months or more before Wisconsin reaches herd immunity, and it will be safe to celebrate more freely again in public places.