Cartoon 3/18/21

Burny’s Sports Bar & Upper Deck once again hosted the World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade March 13. Hosting the 34th iteration of an event designed to pack spectators together is not a great look during a pandemic. What made it even worse was that it spits in the face of those it was trying to honor.

Somehow the story of a saint bringing Christianity to Ireland and getting rid of snakes paved the way for green dye in alcohol and shamrock-themed decor. Celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day are mostly harmless in normal years — save for hangovers and green-stained teeth. The 80-foot parade at a corner in downtown Mayville is no different. It’s an easy and cheap way to get positive publicity and give kids some candy. 

This year, dozens of local residents attended the event without even pretending to wear masks. They packed the parade route shorter than a high school basketball court and expressed the customary amount of excitement as vehicles drove through, some tossing out candy as they went.

Children rushed to the sides of the route to pick up the treats that littered the pavement as parents chuckled and tried to make sure they didn’t stray too far into the road. The banner carried at the start of the parade read in green sans-serif font “Tribute to First Responders and Healthcare Workers.”

“They cheer us on, but yet they don’t listen to us either,” Barb Mullock, a registered nurse and infection prevention specialist at Mosaic Medical Center - Maryville, said to a Missourian reporter last week for a story examining the impacts of COVID-19 over the last year.

Mullock’s statement was not made in response to the event or even about the event at all but it might as well have been. The short parade March 13 was a perfect example of the lack of awareness and downright dissonance people, especially in this community, have when it comes to COVID-19 and listening to healthcare workers.

The worst possible way to honor someone is by ignoring them. Committing arson doesn’t honor firefighters, and starting a high-speed chase doesn’t honor police officers. We don’t honor people by giving them more work, by making their lives harder, by making their jobs more dangerous.

Twelve months into the pandemic there’s no possible way to plea ignorance. Those who decided to show up maskless to the event knew what they were doing. They knew that they were possibly exposing themselves to a virus that has claimed the lives of half a million Americans in less than a year. They knew they were ignoring the express advice of those they were “supporting” by showing up.

The coronavirus has ravaged neighborhoods and families and put an extreme strain on the rural healthcare system and its workers. Workers like Mullock, who wake up every day hoping that people decide to finally listen to them so they don’t have to see them in the hospital.

The parade didn’t really honor healthcare workers, it was a slap in the face to them. It told them that being labeled “grand marshall” in a parade and having your job title receive tribute on a banner is enough compensation for continued ignorance. It’s not. 

The brave men and women who go to work every day, exposing themselves to COVID-19 willingly, trying to save lives and limit the spread, clearly deserve more than a banner. They deserve our admiration. They deserve our respect. Most importantly, they deserve to be listened to. If those who put on the parade or attended it truly wanted to honor healthcare workers, they would have worn masks, they would have been socially distanced or they wouldn’t have even had a parade at all.

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