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In Chicago, it’s St. Patrick’s Day all month long

GreenFrom the Saturday, March 7, editions of The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.) …

The WISCH LIST

By Dave Wischnowsky

When it comes to St. Patrick’s Day, Chicago is so green that it leaves other cities with envy.

The holiday, in fact, is such a big deal in the Windy City that it doesn’t merely encompass the 17th of March, but instead consumes much of the month. Today, for example – a full 10 before the big day – there’s already a Pre-St. Patty Day’s Pub Tour taking place in the Northwest Side enclave of Edison Park as well as the “Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day” blowout consuming in the bars and streets of Wrigleyville.

Chicago’s big weekend honoring Irish heritage is seven days away, and with that fast approaching here’s how you can plan to celebrate as the city paints the town green.

March 14: Dyeing of the river & parade

This year marks the 60th anniversary of Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, annually held on the Saturday prior to the holiday. For 54 of those years, the city has kicked off its festivities by having the Chicago Plumbers Union dump orange dye into the Chicago River to magically turn it green.

Rain or shine, this Saturday will be no different. The dyeing of the river will take place at 9:30 a.m., followed by the parade kicking off at noon in Grant Park. The noisy, fun-filled homage to the Irish will start at Balbo Dr. and head north along Columbus Dr. to Monroe St. along with plenty of bagpipers, drummers and dancers marching their way past a viewing stand in front of Buckingham Fountain that’s filled with local dignitaries.

If you can’t make it in person, you can watch the parade live on ABC-Ch. 7.

March 14: St. Patrick’s Festival & Bar Crawls

If you do make it up to Chicago for the St. Patrick’s Day festivities, there’s plenty to do beyond admiring the emerald river and watching guys march about in kilts.

Most of it, though, takes place in bars with the watering holes in River North, Streeterville and the Loop will of course being awash in revelers after the parade. For a more family-friendly experience, however, the Irish American Heritage Center on Chicago’s northwest side will be holding its own bash. Taking place from 1 p.m. to midnight, the celebration at 4626 N. Knox Ave. includes Irish music, dance, food, activities and gift shopping. Tickets can be purchased at irish-american.org.

Also taking place on March 14 outside of downtown is the Shamrock Crawl through Wrigleyville and the St. Pat’s Trolley Crawl in Lincoln Park.

Details for both events can be found at eventbrite.com.

March 19-22: Chi-Fi

Not every event in Chicago during March is about leprechauns – although at Chi-Fi, I’m guessing that you very well may be able to find somebody dressed up like a little green elf.
Billing itself as an a celebration of geekdom, the convention held at the Palmer House Hilton (17 E. Monroe St.) has grown from a one-day affair in 2014 to a three-day gala this year, and will include guest panels, music, cosplay, games, vendors and after-hours parties.

For more information, visit chi-fi.org.

March 29: Shamrock Shuffle

Just when you thought St. Patrick’s Day was over, it isn’t.

Sneaking in under the gun at the end of March is the annual Shamrock Shuffle, which is said to be the largest 8K (4.97-mile) in the world with up to 36,000 participants.

Offering an opportunity to shake off winter – and burn off some of those St. Patrick’s Day calories accumulated during the month – the race begins and ends in Grant Park and includes a T-shirt and post-race party.

For more information, visit shamrockshuffle.com.