St. Patrick’s Day revelers returned to the Loop Saturday for the city’s first full-blown celebration since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Crowds gathered along the Chicago River for the annual river-dyeing rite that was nixed in 2020 and held without many in attendance amid a case surge in 2021.
Lauren Chavosky of Oak Lawn, went to see the river with her husband and four children. For her youngest child, born in 2020, it was the first St. Pat’s without restrictions.
“We’re just excited for all the events to come back and to celebrate the Chi-Irish,” Chavosky said.
The family had plans to see Irish dancers later in the day and attend the South Side Irish Parade Sunday, skipping the downtown parade that also made its COVID comeback down the street.
Lines wrapped around the block outside River North bars, as people were bundled up against the mid-March cold. Most party-goers went maskless.
“It’s cool seeing everybody back out, everybody having a good time — a lot of smiles,” said Ozzy Arias, a Chicago resident taking in his first downtown St. Pat’s celebration. “It’s a beautiful thing when everybody gets back out together with a group of friends.”
CTA trains were packed heading into the Loop. “Don’t worry, I’m vaccinated,” a woman said before handing a friend a bottle at a Blue Line station.
Rachel Mavros spent the morning with friends in Old Town before heading to see the green river for the first time. “We’re just super excited,” she said.
Mavros and her friends said they weren’t worried about the crowds at bars. The city scrapped its vaccine and mask mandates for bar patrons last month as the number of coronavirus cases has fallen to an eight-month low, and three-quarters of Chicagoans have completed at least their initial vaccine series.
“Best city in the world,” one man shouted as he ran past the group on the State Street bridge.