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Cornelius News

Town officials begging Boukedes to call off massive St. Pat’s party


March 13. By Dave Yochum. Town officials are literally begging Chris Boukedes, the operator of Galway Hooker, to scuttle plans for the massive St. Patrick’s Day observance planned for Kenton Place tomorrow in the midst of a global pandemic.

Separately, Mecklenburg County will declare a county-wide State of Emergency due to the fast-spreading virus.

Town officials said they have no official powers to stop the event which attracts thousands of revelers every year for not just a party but vendor booths, music and children’s activities.

Boukedes has told Cornelius Today he is moving forward with the event, based on long-standing traditions, the fellowship provided to the community and positive feedback during the past two days.

The businessman said people can choose not to attend.

Within the past hour his organization posted this on Facebook:

“After careful consideration, we are happy to announce that our 17th annual #stpatricksdayLKN celebration will proceed as scheduled. Our team has been extremely diligent in ensuring the safety for all of our patrons and we would like to welcome you to join us tomorrow at the #GalwayHookerIrishPub to continue the tradition we’ve proudly established within the #LakeNorman community.”


This year, however, the global coronavirus has churches, major corporations and major sporting tournaments cancelling events or taking them online.

Gov. Cooper, declaring a state of emergency earlier this week, recommends that organizers of events that draw more than 100 people should cancel, postpone, modify these events or offer online streaming services.

These events include large gatherings where people are in close contact for example concerts, conferences, sporting events, faith-based events and other large gatherings.

Mayor Woody Washam said he is deeply troubled by the event and said he is doing everything possible to stop it.

Washam said the town does not have legal standing, based on private property as well as freedom of assembly.

Boukedes obviously has thousands of dollars invested in the event.

Moments ago Mecklenburg County Manager Dena D’Orio said officials would declare a State of Emergency.

She sent this letter to commissioners at 6:03 pm.

Good Evening,

Later this evening, Chairman Dunlap and Vi Lyles will sign a State of Emergency. This essentially does two things: it will allow us to access federal and state resources if they are made available, and enables Gibbie to restrict meetings and events of more than 100 people countywide.

Effectively immediately, the County will cancel all meetings expected to include more than 100 people. In addition, staff will be instructed not to attend large meetings.

Effective March 16, Park & Recreation will cancel or postpone all events at its facilities that are expected to exceed 100 people. This includes aquatics events, sports leagues and community meetings. This will last for 30 days. We will reassess at that time.

Effective March 16, all senior centers will close and senior programming at other locations will be cancelled. Since those over age 65 are particularly vulnerable to the virus this will remain in effect until further notice. Congregate meal programs for seniors are also cancelled until further notice. Staff will assess and provide home-bound meals to those program participants that are food insecure.

The Homeless Resource Center (HRC) located on College Street will close today. Since the HRC normally has over 200 people at a time, we had no choice but to close it. The churches that normally provide food to our homeless neighbors have agreed to provide boxed meals in lieu of hot meals.

The City Council is considering taking steps to change the format of its meetings. City Council is planning to meet in 267 while the public will be in the Chamber.  In 267, the Mayor and each Councilmember will sit at a long table by themselves ensuring lots of space between them.  Food will be served in 270/271.   In the Chamber there will be 6 feet between each person leaving only 45 seats for the public and staff.    Their Communication Department is going to message that people should stay home and watch from home unless they have business at the meeting. In an abundance of caution I am recommending that we follow this process as well.

We continue to evaluate County operations and make decisions accordingly.

UPDATE  7 pm. NC Rep. Christy Clark called on Boukedes to cancel this year’s event.

NC Rep. Clark

“Businesses should heed the recommendations of Gov. Cooper and NC Dept. of Health and Human Services,” Clark said.

“The choices we make today to prevent community spread could save the lives of our neighbors in the at-risk groups,” Clark added.

Here are Boukedes’ comments earlier today:  “It is open and the public can come out or not.  I want it to be their discretion.  I am urging everyone to take their own precaution and asking anyone that does not feel 110% to stay home.   I am prepared to take a massive hit and am ok with being the only one in attendance.   I just don’t want to let the event tradition break.  It’s too important to the community and that shows in the out pouring of support and feedback we have received in the last 48 hours.”

Cornelius Today will continue to report on this developing situation.