St Patrick's Day parade in US capital cancelled as security costs rise

St Patrick's Day parade in US capital cancelled as security costs rise

The organisers of the St Patrick's Day parade in Washington DC have cancelled this year's event due to rising security costs.

In a statement, the organising committee described itself as "distraught" to announce that the event has been cancelled. The volunteer-run parade has been held annually in the US capital since 1971 with tens of thousands of Irish-Americans attending in a celebration of heritage each year.

However, just two months ahead of this year's event, the organisers have been forced to pull the plug.

They said the threat of terrorist attacks at major public events globally is a growing concern and has resulted in a corresponding rise in security costs, exceeding the budget available for the event.

"The greatest overhead in producing an event of this magnitude is the government-related expense of security and street closures," the group said. "After the 2016 tragedy in Nice, France, the government of the District of Columbia has significantly increased preventative security requirements for public gatherings such as the St Patrick's Parade. The corresponding rapid increase in overheads, in combination with relatively stagnant funding, have put the Committee in a precarious financial position."

The organising committee is a non-profit organisation which exists "solely for the purpose of raising funds for and producing a St Patrick's Parade". In addition to the funds raised locally, the event is partially supported by government grants.

"Certain expenses are offset by a grant from the government of the District of Columbia. We have relied on this grant support for many years, but as costs have increased, recently the grant has not had the same effect in reducing our financial burden," it said.

The committee urged people to instead travel to parades in Baltimore and Annapolis.

Despite the setback, organisers are now re-focusing their efforts on the 2020 event, which would have been the 50th held prior to the decision to cancel this year's parade.

"The St Patrick’s Parade of Washington, DC will hold the parade for its 50th year on Sunday, March 15, 2020. We look forward to your participation in 2020 and ask for your continued support until then."

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