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CLEVELAND (WJW)– On a typical St. Patrick’s Day, revelers would pack the bars and restaurants in downtown Cleveland and the Flats before and after the parade.

But there’s been nothing typical about the past year. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade was canceled in 2020 and again this year.

The owner of the Flat Iron Cafe in The Flats said even a modest crowd on Wednesday will be a vast improvement over last year when bars and restaurants were shut down during the early days of the outbreak.

“So momentum is definitely in our favor. But until we get real events downtown again like parades, like full on Indians games, things like that, it’s going to be tough for the downtown businesses, you know, I think downtown is going to need some help recovering in general,” Ryan James told FOX 8.

At Panini’s Bar and Grill in Westlake, they are hoping to capitalize on the pent-up demand for St. Patrick’s Day, by turning the holiday into a week-long celebration with food and drink specials, and live music.

“At this time last year, we were on lockdown and our St. Paddy’s Day was ruined. And we don’t have the parade this year, so it gives us a chance to interact with our customers and make some money,” said bartender Melanie Germ.

(FOX 8 photo)

Bars like Panini’s will be using their outdoor seating, expanded over the past year because of COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, to accommodate the larger crowds expected on St. Patrick’s Day. COVID safety guidelines will still be enforced on indoor and outdoor venues, but as virus cases continue to drop and vaccination campaigns start to ramp up, there’s a feeling that St. Patrick’s Day 2021 will be remembered as the holiday when we started to turn the COVID corner.

“This is a chance for us all to bounce back, it’s sad that the parade is not going on. But for our businesses, it’s going to help because it’s going to bring people out to the bars,” said Panini’s manager Tonya Busa. “People are pumped to get out.”