The Gridiron Club & Foundation has canceled its annual white-tie dinner Saturday because of concerns over the coronavirus.
The dinner, sponsored by D.C.’s oldest journalism group, is a gathering of media and political elite that features satirical skits about Washington politics, performed by a mixture of TV reporters and anchors and print bureau chiefs.
“I’m sorry to have to announce that the Gridiron Club & Foundation is canceling its 135th anniversary dinner this coming Saturday (as well as all associated events and rehearsals),” the group’s president, Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, wrote in a statement to members. “Given the concerns over the Coronavirus and advice from government officials about avoiding large gatherings, we feel it’s best not to put you or your guests at risk. We are taking this step based on expert advice as well as the feedback we are hearing from members and others who had planned to attend.”
The event is not as well known as the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, primarily because cameras are not allowed, but it does draw top government officials, House and Senate lawmakers and governors in a format that still has shades of its 19th century origins. When it comes to the night’s satirical segments, the motto is “singe, not burn,” and attendees cap the evening by locking arms and singing “Auld Lang Syne.”
President Donald Trump attended the event in 2018, even though he skipped the WHCA last year, and sent his daughter Ivanka in his place.
The annual WHCA dinner is scheduled for April 25. As of now it is still scheduled, but organizers are watching to see how the situation develops over the coming weeks.
The Gridiron dinner was canceled twice before — once in 1918 because of World War I and once in 1942 because of World War II, according to a note sent to members by the group’s historian, George Condon.
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