Malcolm White said the last 24 hours have been grueling.
The founder of the 36-year-old Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade, on the advice of Mississippi State Health Department Director Dr. Thomas Dodd, canceled this year’s parade that was to be held on March 28 in downtown Jackson.
“Ultimately, they advised us to cancel the parade,” White said. “The idea of assembling a crowd (of 70,000 plus) with people coming from many places was more of a risk than I was willing to take.”
White read off a list of frequently asked questions (which included questions about what would happen to events surrounding the parade).
“The parade is canceled – the pet parade, the children’s parade, the 5k run,” he reiterated. “That does not mean that bars and restaurants will not be open on the 28th day of March in Jackson, Miss.,” adding, “there will be some type of event here at Hal & Mal’s,” a celebration that includes music and costumes.
White also said that Friday night’s event (and Patty Peck New Car GIveaway – tickets at foch.org) would continue at Cathead Distillery (an event presented by Cathead Distillery). “We’re not trying to stymie the celebration; we’re just trying to preserve public health.”
A Jacksonian and owner of Hal & Mal’s, White called the decisions to cancel “mine and mine alone,” saying he was “happy to defend the decision here today or any place at any time.”
“It has not been a pleasant 24 hours on social media. For the people who have expressed their displeasure, anger and disappointment… by directing it at me… if I have been of service to you folks, then I am happy to be that for now. The decision was made to protect you, to protect the public with the advice of medical and health specialists.”
In June 2019, White penned a letter that stated his intention to bow out of parade planning if public safety could not be guaranteed. His statements today came full circle.
“It would be absolutely irresponsible of me now to disown my interest in public safety and say, ‘I don’t think the Coronavirus isn’t serious and I don’t think there is any reason to be alarmed.’ It started as a conversation about public safety and it will end as a conversation about public safety.”