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More Signs That ‘Normal’ is Still a Long Way Off

As we move further into 2021, there are ever more signs that a new year is not going to bring a swift, profound change to the regional landscape.


Indeed, over the past day or so, the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade organizers have announced that both the parade and road race will be canceled for the second year in a row, and the Springfield Thunderbirds have made it clear that they will not be part of a planned 26-game American Hockey League season in 2021.

Neither announcement should come as a surprise, and both are completely understandable given the circumstances. But they provide more painful reminders that, if there is light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the pandemic, as many of the experts are saying, then there is still a good deal of tunnel to get through.

They also provide more painful evidence that the region’s economy is not through suffering body blows. Both the Thunderbirds and the St. Holyoke Patrick’s Day parade are more than traditions and time-honored sources of family entertainment. They are also important economic engines, and without them, any recovery in 2021 will be slower and less profound.

In the case of the parade, all we can do is look forward to 2022 and hope that after two years of quiet along the parade route, that event will be one to remember and one to celebrate all that the parade means to the region. And with the Thunderbirds, we have to hope that the team can weather what will be likely be at least 18 months without games at the MassMutual Center and that players will again be lacing up skates this fall.

While the experts have said that that this is the beginning of the end for the pandemic, they have hinted strongly that 2021 — or at least the start of it — might be at least as painful as 2020.

Unfortunately, we’re already seeing signs that they are right.

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