South Side Irish Parade

The Chicago South Side Irish Parade has a great history, and as of last year was one of the largest neighbourhood parades outside of Ireland. Started in 1979 by George Hendry and Pat Coakley, it grew from 17 children marching around the block to an event hosting over 15,000 marchers and 250,000 spectators each year.

In fact it got so big it moved away from having that local feel, and in 2009 the numbers made it difficult to control. This year it’s re-inventing itself and the organising committee have decided to steer it back towards it’s original community roots.

The celebrations are being renamed as the South Side Irish Parade Family Fest, and will take place on Saturday, March 13. The parade itself won’t be on the schedule, but there are a whole range of family activities planned, topped off with a live performance by the Hothouse Flowers in the evening.

South Side Irish

On the Sunday (March 14) St. Cajetan Catholic Church will hold its annual Irish Mass, and residents are invited to the Beverly Arts Center afterwards for a blessing and reception. As is the tradition everyone is encouraged to continue the celebrations in their homes that afternoon with family and friends.

The festival is also part of a 10 day event that includes the return of the Chicago Irish Film Festival (March 5-10), and the Chicago Rose of Tralee contest.

Can one become two?

Many Chicago Irish will miss the parade and the large occasion that grew around it, but it’s also understandable why the committee had to have a rethink. Whether this will lead to a new parallel event waits to be seen.

George Kelleher from Evergreen Park has started a Facebook page inviting everyone to come along on Sunday 14th. The suggestion is to have a pub crawl which will either be a farewell party for the parade or, if problem free, could be the start of something new?

Whichever way you look at it, Irish spirit is definitely alive and kicking in Chicago! :-)

If you’re from the South Side what do you think, and what would you like to see in future years?

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Comments

South Side Irish Parade — 8 Comments

  1. LOVE AS IF YOU COULD THE ONE YOU HOLD DEAR TO HEART, ON ANY DAY< ANY HOUR< ANY MINUTE OR ANY SECOND ! I LOVE MY CHAD, I PRAY WE HAVE A WONDERFUL AND HEALTHY WEDDING, EVEN IF WE DO NOT WIN THIS ONCWE IN A LIFE TIME CHANCE. LIFE THROWS MANY THINGS AT US, EVERYDAY… WE HAVE TO MAKE THE BEST OF THE TIME WE HAVE WITH ONE A…NOTHER !http://www.ultimateweddingcontest.com/entries/235… More

    • Hey Michelle,

      This hasn't got anything to do with the parade, but hey you're from Chicago, you're getting married, and you love your man!

      So here's wishing you some Irish luck, and have a great day!

      :-)

      Mick

  2. Sorry…It would not let me post this in one comment so I need to break it up into multiple comments.

    It is a shame that the corrupt politics of Chicago has reared its ugly head once again and canceled the South Side Irish Parade. This event has been a long standing tradition for many American familes especially those with Irish ancestry. It was a neighborhood celebration that put the Beverly community on the map. My parents took me as a child and I had continued the tradition with my own children.

    To some, the annual parade down Western Avenue was almost as big as Christmas. The east side of Western Avenue was known as the family side and since the west side of the street has all of the bars it traditionally catered to the more adult crowd. Throughout the Beverly neighborhood, residents continued the celebration with their own private parties. The neighborhood did get congested but it was tolerable because it was just one day a year.

  3. Continued —

    The reputation of this fine event has attracted parade attendees from all over the United States and the world. President Obama even told the Irish Prime Minister about this wonderful celebration when the PM visited the Oval Office last year.

  4. Continued —

    The Parade committee has blamed the growing number of attendees and the City's inability to properly police the event. As with any large event, there are always a few disorderly folks in the crowd. There are a number of theories on why the event was really canceled. Chicago was in the midst of a bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. The City did not want any press that would make people think that they could not handle a large scale event such as the Olympics. The South Side Parade was not an official City of Chicago event. The City sponsors a separate parade in downtown Chicago on the Saturday before St Patrick's Day. The South Side Parade was favored by Chicagoans much to the mayor's displeasure. The City of Chicago also said that they could not afford the police overtime required to secure the parade. It was a neighborhood event not a City event. There are numerous other "neighborhood" events such as the Gay Pride parade and the Bud Billikin parade that are held in city neighborhoods rather than downtown. The Chicago Police Department is detailed to police those events.

  5. Continued —

    I hope the pub crawl started on Facebook has good turnout. While it does not show how the families will miss this great tradition it will hopefully show the politicians how important this event was to the people of Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Even though there is no parade, I am keeping up the tradition by hosting the same St Patricks Day party for my family and friends on the day of what would have been the 2010 South Side Irish Parade.

    Let's bring it back for 2011!!!

  6. Miss the Southside Parade. Beverly and the entire Southside Irish and my Family miss the Wrigley Field of the Southside. Heres hoping for a rebirth in 2012! A time to enjoy our neighborhood and our true southside spirit on western avenue.

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