Marching toward St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago

Today’s newspaper column from The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.)

Marching toward St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago


March 10, 2012

They say that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. But we should hardly forget to mention that in between there’s a whole lot of St. Patrick’s Day celebrating going on.

Especially in a city like Chicago, which happens to boast more than 200,000 citizens of Irish descent – and almost as many Irish bars – and has also elected a dozen Irish mayors since the town’s incorporation 175 years ago.

As luck would have it, this year St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday – one week from today – making it all the more magically delicious for revelers. And to help you make plans for enjoying the holiday, I thought I’d offer tips about some of the Irish-themed events taking place in the Windy City both this weekend and next.

So, go ahead and get your green on …

South Side Irish Parade

Shut down three years ago due to repeated outbreaks of drunken violence and a string of bad publicity, Chicago’s South Side Irish Parade (est. 1979) has risen from the ashes in 2012.

At 11 a.m. on Sunday (that’s tomorrow), what’s supposed to be a kinder and gentler parade will kick off at 10400 Western Avenue in the city’s Beverly neighborhood.

The event is free of charge, and parade organizers say that, “In the past few months, we have worked extensively with our private security firm, the City of Chicago, and the Chicago Police Department creating a plan we feel will bring this great neighborhood tradition back as the family friendly event it was meant to be.”

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has given a green light to the green-laden parade, but as of last month the administration was still expressing concerns about its new security measures. To decide for yourself, visit for the full security outline and additional details.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Each year, Chicago’s traditional St. Patrick’s Day Parade takes place downtown on the Saturday prior to March 17. This year, the city is lucky enough to be able to hold the parade on the actual holiday.

The 57th annual event is free of charge and will kick off at noon next Saturday at 300 E. Balbo Drive. But if you’re heading up for the day, you’ll want to get downtown earlier than that as the annual ritual of dyeing the Chicago River green will commence at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Columbus Drive and the river.

For more information about the parade, visit

St. Patrick’s Festival

Up on Chicago’s Northwest Side in the Avondale neighborhood, this family-friendly post-parade will kick off at 1 p.m. on March 17 at the Irish American Heritage Center (4626 N. Knox Avenue). The event features traditional and contemporary Irish music, dance, food and plenty of children’s activities.

Tickets can be ordered in advance for $12 through or be purchased for $15 at the door. Kids under 13 are admitted for free.

St. Paddy’s 5K and 8K Run/Walk

For those looking to burn calories rather than ingest them next weekend – or to do a bit of both – the Windy City offers this race benefiting Special Olympics Chicago.

At 10 a.m. on Sunday, March 18, the starting gun will fire at 2430 N. Cannon Drive, and race participants are encouraged to wear festive green running gear or costumes.

Awards are given out for the most innovative garb, and this year a new post-run/walk party will be held at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum with live music, prizes and a complimentary beer for each participant, age 21 or older.
To register for the race, visit