St. Patrick’s Day seemed to bring a new sense of appreciation this year at a pair of celebrations in Vermont, where many aw the holiday as representing the day the COVID-19 pandemic really started hitting home one year ago.
In 2020, St. Patrick’s Day was the date Gov. Phil Scott set for bars and restaurants in his state to close, aside from take-out, in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Most gatherings and community celebrations of the holiday were also canceled in 2020.
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However, celebrations resumed this year — with careful disease prevention steps in place.
“It feels great to have us all back again and starting to enjoy life together,” said Beth Hammond, the executive director of the Heineberg Community Senior Center in Burlington.
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The center hosted a traditional dance performance for St. Patrick’s Day. It was still outdoors, masked, and physically distanced, but Hammond was glad to see seniors at least gathering again after so much isolating throughout the pandemic.
“I feel free now that I have my vaccine, I’ll tell you that,” said Jeanette O’Brien, who attended Wednesday’s dance performance at the senior center. “Just opening this all up — it’s life again. Renewal, spring, everything. It’s a miracle, I think!”
The annual St. Patrick’s Day concrete mixer parade from S.D. Ireland also returned this year. It had to take 2020 off, along with so many other events.
“We like to spread joy whenever we can,” said Kim Ireland of the S.D. Ireland Companies.
The fleet of Ireland mixers, with their shamrock logos, once again toured several Chittenden County communities bearing sponsors’ logos.
Since 2007, the event has raised money for cancer research at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine, Ireland noted.
“It feels good,” she said of seeing the event return following the hiatus forced by the pandemic last year. “It feels like we’re coming out on the other side. We’re not totally there yet, but we’re coming out of it.”
2021 saw a record haul of $175,000 in parade sponsorships, Ireland told NECN.
She chalked that up not to the luck of the Irish, but to how the past year had so many Vermonters refocused on strengthening their communities and helping others.
“It is a happy St. Patrick’s Day,” Ireland said, reflecting on the progress since the holiday in 2020.