Lakeland simplifies St. Patrick’s Day due to COVID-19

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Diego De Jesus

Traditional St. Patrick’s Day events in Lakeland are being adjusted due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think they’re rolling with the punches with COVID. From everything that I’ve heard, they haven’t planned anything this year,” sophomore Jared Law said. “I work downtown and I haven’t seen anything yet.”

 Law has lived in the Lakeland area for three and a half years. He works in the Jimmy John’s sandwich shop downtown.

Since no big plans have been announced, Law believes a lot of people might go celebrate the holiday in a larger city like Tampa, where they have more celebrations lined up. Lakeland might plan events the week before the holiday, but there is no word yet.

Thomas Prokuski, a sophomore at Florida Southern College, was born and raised in Lakeland and provided details on what Lakeland does for St. Patrick’s Day.

“A lot of local restaurants will decorate for the holiday and hold their own themed [celebration] in their establishment,” Prokuski said. “St. Patty’s day is more so celebrated in Tampa; Tampa’s going to be the biggest celebration. A lot of beaches will definitely celebrate.”

There are some traditions from the past year that might still be in effect. Phalen DeJarnette, a junior at Florida Southern College who lives in Lakeland, reflects on celebrations from the past years. 

“There’s most likely going to be a themed first Friday celebration thing going on if it hasn’t changed because of COVID on the 5th,” DeJarnette said. 

First Friday is when Lakeland closes its streets on the first friday of that month and holds a series of events that correlate with a theme. 

Due to COVID-19, First Friday celebrations won’t occur on March 5. Celebrations will resume on April 2 with Sun ‘n Fun. 

The city of Lakeland itself doesn’t  hold any celebrations on St. Patrick’s Day. Parades and such aren’t held on St. Patrick’s Day unlike in bigger cities like Tampa. Instead, locally sponsored events spring up in downtown Lakeland. 

Julie Townsend, the Executive Director of Lakeland Downtown Development Authority, is in charge of planning events in downtown Lakeland and listed the many events taking place around St. Patrick’s Day. 

One of the upcoming events Townsend plans is Tasty Tuesdays on March 16 where participants can try samples from multiple restaurants from Downtown Lakeland. This event lasts from 4:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. 

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