City’s canceling of weekend events leaves organizers, tourism officials disappointed

Published: Mar. 10, 2020 at 10:33 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The City cancelled this weekend’s events after state officials announced additional coronavirus cases this afternoon.

Organizers say they are disappointed but understand the decision.

Out of an abundance of caution, Mayor Latoya Cantrell announced events this weekend, like the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Uptown Super Sunday, will not be rolling.

“This weekend’s events, I’ve made the decision to cancel all of them,” said Cantrell.

“The ones we feel sorry for are our maids, the girls on our court and our grand marshal of the year, who have been prepping for this the whole year,” says St. Patrick’s Day Club President Dick Burke.

Burke says while the news is difficult, paradegoers can still enjoy the parades in Jefferson Parish as of now.

“They’re all disappointed but a lot of riders ride in St. Patrick’s Day in Jefferson Parish either on Saturday or Irish-Italian the following Sunday. So, they’re still going to get a ride out of it,” says Burke.

“It’s just devastating to all of us. Already, so much preparation has gone on and it’s just our livelihood. It’s what we do here,” says resident Frank Connell.

After meeting with Jazz Fest organizers, Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser says he’s surprised to hear about this weekend’s cancellations.

“I’m disappointed. You know, being in the tourism industry, to learn about that through the news, we had all the tourism leaders from New Orleans in a meeting with the governor this morning. There was no mention of that and I think that just sends the wrong message,” says Nungesser.

He says further cancellations of events during festival season would be a huge economic hit.

“I think we need to safely carry on. We’ve got millions and millions of dollars in conventions that are right now sitting back thinking about whether to cancel those events coming to New Orleans,” says Nungesser.

As of now, organizers of upcoming events like Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest, Buku and the Crescent City Classic say they will continue as scheduled.

“I just talked to Quint Davis and he spoke to the owners of Jazz Fest and at this time, they have no plans of canceling,” says Nungesser.

Other tourism leaders say they’re working to lessen the economic blow.

“As groups want to do something different, they want to postpone. We’ll try to get them into a rescheduling mode. But, right now, our goal is to retain the business that we have on the books,” says Mark Romig with New Orleans and Company.

Tourism leaders say they will meet with the New Orleans City Council Wednesday on how to retain business while doing it safely.

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