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South Side Irish Parade to return after two-year hiatus

A beloved St. Patrick’s Day tradition is returning to the South Side this March after a two-year hiatus.

Culver Academies Pipes and Drums at the 2015 South Side Irish St. Patricks Day Parade.
Culver Academies Pipes and Drums at the 2015 South Side Irish St. Patricks Day Parade.
James Foster/Sun-Times

A beloved St. Patrick’s Day tradition is returning to the Beverly and Morgan Park neighborhoods this March after a two-year hiatus.

The South Side Irish Parade will be held March 13, the parade’s committee co-chair Don Larisey confirmed Wednesday.

Marchers will embark on their usual one-mile parade route around noon that day, starting at 103rd Street and Western Avenue and moving along Western Avenue before ending at 115th Street.

More details are expected to be shared Thursday, a spokesperson said.

The return of the South Side parade is welcoming news for many residents of the Beverly, Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood neighborhoods who claim Irish lineage.

“I’m excited because I think this is sorely needed certainly in my community, both for the residents but also our businesses,” local Ald. Matt O’Shea said. “Our businesses have struggled these past 22 months, and the last 10 days has been even more difficult” because of the vaccine mandate.

“So to be able to see two months out, the South Side Irish Parade, which it’s not only that day, but it’s the two weeks leading up to it, where you can really feel the excitement in the community and our businesses thrive. And I just look forward to an opportunity to bring people together, have people out and about outside the neighborhood seeing old friends and neighbors. It’s just a real shot in the arm for everybody.”

Last year, organizers still encouraged the neighborhoods to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day despite the parade’s cancellation, challenging residents to deck their homes out in green gear as part of a contest called “Shamrock Our Blocks.”

The pandemic wasn’t the first time the parade was canceled in its more than 40-year history.

After an especially rowdy celebration in 2009, the parade, which dates back to 1979, was put on three-year hiatus after O’Shea said the event had been “hijacked by idiots” who drank themselves into a stupor.

It returned in 2012 with a renewed focus on being a family-friendly event.

O’Shea said he’s excited for the community to feel the camaraderie of their neighbors and bask in their Irish pride once again.

“It’s been quite a long, hard winter — 22 months of this pandemic — and for the neighborhood to be able to come together, for friends and family to celebrate [and] for people from all across the metro area to come to our community” it’s great, he said. “The day of the South Side Irish parade ... everybody’s Irish that day. It’s just a wonderful time to celebrate faith, family and heritage.”