Big cities, small towns and neighborhoods across the US celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with parades, traditional music and dance, and food made from recipes of our ancestors. I’m celebrating two Sundays in a row at the March 10th South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade and today.
This is a photo essay about a St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the wearing of the green, for Travel theme: Green. People didn’t have to be Irish to attend, just fun-loving. It’s the largest neighborhood St. Patrick’s Day parade in the U.S. that got its start in 1979 with humble beginnings.
“So on a rainy Saturday, March 17, 1979, George and Pat, with the help of their wives, Mary and Marianne (Mernie), gathered 17 children from the West Morgan Park community to march in the first South Side Irish St. Pat’s Parade. The children were the only marchers: Tim Kelly was dressed as St. Patrick; Eileen Hughes was the parade’s first and only queen; a few Boy Scouts, including Jack and George Hendry and Pat and Kevin Coakley, carried the American flag; and the parade’s original float, a baby buggy covered with a box decorated with shamrocks and the 26 county flags of Ireland, was pushed around the 10900 blocks of Washtenaw and Talman. The children were given the moniker “The Wee Folks of Washtenaw and Talman”. The theme of the parade was “Bring Back St. Pat”, which was George and Pat’s way of saying bring back to the South Side the parade they had cherished as children. Notices of the parade which were placed in mailboxes along the “route” invited neighbors to stand on their porches and wave to the marchers.” History of Chicago’s South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade
There was music, dancing, floats, wolfhounds and more at the parade that attracted over 150,000 people and pets in various shades of green and orange colors and costumes lined up along Western Avenue, between 103rd Street and 115th Street. I was one of them. I was dressed in green, but sported no orange wig or full kilt attire as did some others expressing their Irish ancestry pride.
There were also a lot of house parties and family reunions at restaurants that day and today as well because St. Patrick’s Day is a feast day of traditional food for Irish Americans.
There were a few years when the parade day was becoming more like a wild party with a lot of parade goers drinking heavily. Then parade organizers and local law enforcement made a concerted effort to return the parade back to its more family and community-oriented origins. It’s a large and long parade, but it does have a neighborhood feel to it. There are still pubs and restaurants in Beverly for parade goers to party at; and a family friendly environment at and around the parade.
Many Irish clans had floats, local businesses and unions, and cultural arts and hobby clubs that sponsor the parade also participate in the procession. The rich diversity of the Beverly, Evergreen Park and Morgan Park towns was represented in the parade participants. The crowd swelled to 150,000 with lots of people from surrounding counties and states.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade Photos
I hope you enjoy the photos. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I wish you one filled with good food and fun.