CARTHAGE, Missouri — A gathering that traditionally has drawn tens of thousands of Vietnamese Catholics from across the U.S. to southwest Missouri has been canceled for a second straight year because of the pandemic.

The Joplin Globe reports that the city of Carthage and the Congregation of the Mother of the Redeemer in Carthage have decided that the risk of COVID-19 transmission is still too great to hold the Marian Days celebration. Before 2020, the event had taken place in the city every year since 1978, reuniting families and friends separated after the fall of Saigon.

Father John Paul Tai Tran, provincial minister of the congregation, said the decision not to hold the celebration during the first week of August was again difficult.

“Our people come from all over and there are a lot of states in the U.S. where the cases of infection are still booming,” he said.

Carthage police Chief Greg Dagnan said the leaders of the congregation met with city officials Tuesday about the event but had pretty much decided beforehand that it would still be too dangerous.

“We’re not at the level where we can have 50,000 or 60,000 people stand shoulder-to-shoulder and camp together for a week,” Dagnan said.