While Chicago’s public gathering restrictions are still in place, Dallas revelers are already gathering to celebrate Ireland and freedom.
Chicago’s mayor Lori Lightfoot approved dyeing the river that runs through the city into green, renewing a tradition she nixed last year because of COVID-19.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot had canceled the annual dyeing in 2020 — and vowed to do the same this year — because of the coronavirus, citing social-distancing concerns over the crowds it typically draws.
But she changed course at the last minute this year in a bid to uplift local spirits — and businesses — and boat crews began dumping the dye into the Chicago River around 7 a.m. Saturday.
The river-dyeing was not publicized to avoid crowds from congregating on its banks, a mayoral spokesman said.
“We’re happy that Mayor Lightfoot decided to continue with this tradition because we truly missed it last year, as a lot of other things in 2020,” local Lori Jones, 59, told the Chicago Tribune.
Beyond the color of the river, little will change from last year’s pandemic prolonged moratorium on fun and festivities for this celebration of all things Irish.
Local officials are urging residents to continue following public health guidelines and avoid large gatherings. They’re also warning that anyone who may be hosting or celebrating St. Patrick’s Day must follow the appropriate guidelines.
Residential gatherings are limited to groups of no more than ten people and restrictions for businesses remain in place.
“St. Patrick’s Day is one of greatest times of the year in Chicago, but as we enter the second year of this pandemic our celebration must look different than typical years,” Rosa Escareno, commissioner of the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, said in a statement.
“We have to stay diligent and commit to the regulations that keep our community safe. I expect our businesses to rise to the occasion this weekend as they have throughout the pandemic, but we will be prepared to take enforcement action if necessary,” Escareno said.
I can’t wait to see if local eco-activists are going to rail against this decision. And if Lightfoot thinks green dye is going to lift the public’s spirits, then she may want to order much more….especially given the continuing gang violence and other civic failures.
And while the party scene might be limited in Chicago, Texans are already making merry after Gov. Greg Abbott ended the state coronavirus restrictions.
Large crowds gathered on Greenville Avenue in Dallas, as St. Patrick’s Day festivities coincided with the first weekend without statewide mask and capacity restrictions in Texas.
On Wednesday, the statewide mask mandate was lifted and businesses were cleared to reopen at 100% capacity.
For revelers like Shayda Nazifpour, it was the biggest crowd in almost a year.
“I see a lot of people not wearing masks,” Nazifpour said. “But everyone seems like they’re having a good time.”
Nazifpour showed off her holiday-themed mask, but evidence of face coverings and social distancing was few and far between.
Images of the crowds on social media sparked backlash from users on Twitter, who called the gatherings irresponsible and feared they would lead to a spike in COVID-19 numbers in the coming days.
— Eric Alvarez (@EricWFAA) March 13, 2021
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