All across America, cities and towns are holding emergency council meetings to determine if a potential widespread, pandemic outbreak of the novel coronavirus should scramble this year’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities. For decades, Americans have participated in festivities that celebrate Irish culture and traditions in a uniquely American style. Many look forward to proclaiming their own Irish heritage during this time, whether or not they’re actually Irish.
“We all know how important it to the citizens of this town,” Mayor Bob Robertson of Fort Gilding, Ohio told city council members in an emergency meeting this weekend, “even though we have a very small population of actual Irish Americans living here. The rest of us really like to get drunk and pretend we’re Irish at the St. Patty’s Day festival, and we owe it to them to give them to chance to be a living, breathing stereotype once a year!”
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In Casper Falls, Minnesota, Karen Michigas serves on the town council board, and she recently told her local paper she’s “extremely concerned” about what will happen to local tax revenue for the year, if the board goes through with its proposal to cancel the St. Patrick’s Weekend festivities. Casper Falls has held the parades, carnival, drinking and puking contests, and various other events during the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day for twenty years, Michigas says, and she knows more than one pub owner who might have to shut their doors if they lose out on that weekend’s profits.
“Imagine how desolate the Village will be if Chud’s Place, or Boob’s Whiskey Divebar closes! Just how the hell will people in this one horse town get drunk the rest of the year, if they can’t get drunk at these establishment’s for St. Patty’s,” Karen told her fellow council members. “I’ve lived her all my life, and I swear to Christ I’ll move if Chud’s closes down. I met my first husband there. I used to tend bar there.”
Over in Saw Dust, Georgia, the local city council is worried their town might become insolvent without its annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities. For fifty years, people in and around the state have flocked to Saw Dust to drink green beer, vomit in the streets, and profess their completely unproven Irish heritage to one another. The council estimates that the town derives roughly 70% of its municipal revenues from the tourists who come there every year for St. Patrick’s Day.
“Where will our kids go to swim? Where will seniors go to get their free flu shot we provide every year without the revenue from that weekend,” Saw Dust Mayor Brian Kendlewood asked the board. “We need some kind of contingency plan, sure, but we also need to hope for a miracle the likes of which we’ve never seen in this town before.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commercial Transactions estimates that tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of gallons of beer and whiskey could go un-quaffed if the coronavirus threat isn’t contained. Even small local hospitals could feel the pinch if enough festivals, parades, and bar crawls are canceled, though. The National Association of Hospitals estimates that a full third of its members’ resources are derived from the money they take in resulting from treating wounds and injuries obtained during drunken brawls and falling accidents.
“Each year, thousands of people get drunk and get ornery around this time of year, resulting in an absolute glut of emergency room visits for broken bones and stab wounds,” Dr. Carl Carlson of the NAH told us via Skype. “That’s a lot of nurse and doctor salaries, paid for in one night, or a series of nights if the parades and pub crawl events are held on the weekend.”
Thus far, thousands have been diagnosed with a coronavirus infection worldwide. The official numbers released by the Trump administration are only a few hundred cases nationwide. Last week, the famous South by Southwest festival in Austin was canceled out of an abundance of caution.
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Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook, Spotify, and Instagram, but not Twitter because Twitter is a cesspool.