For the second consecutive year, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the The Society of the Friendly of St. Patrick of Saratoga Springs to cancel its annual black-tie dinner, which would have been Wednesday.
But the organization nevertheless pledges to donate proceeds that were collected in advance of the event to three charities, as it did last year.
Most members and guests who already paid for tickets and dinners have decline their refunds, Mark Phillips of the chapter’s historical committee said Sunday.
The proceeds will be divided among Catholic Charities of Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties, and St. Clement’s Regional School and Saratoga Central Catholic High School.
“We still would like to have some good come out of all of this,” Philips said.
“We didn’t just assemble to have a bang-up party for St. Patrick’s Day. The purpose of the Friendly Sons has evolved into a bit of a philanthropic endeavor, so we are grateful to raise proceeds for for our nonprofits, which are in dire demand for any help whatsoever.”
When dinners are held, the society holds a 50-50 raffle to benefit the three organizations.
Also, with an eye toward “the blue-collar workers” who depend on tips during the dinner, Phillips said a portion of the proceeds will be donated to wait staff.
The society’s inaugural dinner was attended by 50 people in March 1953, in the ballroom of the Worden Hotel on Broadway.
Throughout the years, the dinner has moved to various restaurants, but in most recent years, they’ve been at the Holiday Inn on Broadway in Saratoga Springs. An average of 175 have attended each of the past seven years, while the society has donated thousands of dollars to all three organizations in year’s past.
The society’s 40-plus board of governors have been planning this year’s dinner through virtual meetings.
Apart from the reduced donations, fellowship and camaraderie of the annual dinners will be greatly missed, Phillips said.
“We’re the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick,” said Phillips, who’s gone to every dinner since 1975; he’s the son of a charter society member. “It doesn’t mean everybody in that room is Irish. The old quote is everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.”