Gov. Bruce Rauner had to know he would draw some boos as he walked in Sunday’s South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Union ties are strong in the Morgan Park and Beverly neighborhoods, where the parade ran down Western Avenue — and this year, it featured at least eight union floats and the Irish-American Labor Council, a committee of the AFL-CIO, as its grand marshal.
Rauner, who has made creation of union-weakening “right to work” zones in specific parts of the state a priority in his first few months in office, waved with a smile as people standing on the curb shouted, “No right to work!” and “You’re no good!”
At one point, Rauner picked up the pace to a jog — and yells of “Keep running!” followed.
Brendan Nolan, a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399, clapped as people nearby booed the governor.
Asked about the booing, Catherine Kelly, a spokeswoman for Rauner said in an emailed statement: “While the protectors of the failed status quo will always make noise, Bruce heard from more people this weekend expressing support for his empowerment agenda.”
The event had a significant political presence, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his challenger, Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, courted voters and posed for photos along the route.
“It’s a wonderful day for politicians” because the crowd offered a lot of hands to shake, said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Any tension surrounding Rauner’s appearance was brief, as the crowd seemed relaxed and mellow, a stark contrast to Saturday’s Wrigleyville mayhem.
Spectators wearing cream-colored Irish Aran sweaters and green beads adhered to the no-tolerance policy for public drinking that police were enforcing. There were no arrests or incidents, according to parade organizers.
“That’s how it should be. It’s a family parade,” said Danette Buckley, who came to the parade with her family from their home in Beverly.
Kerry Johnson, who brought her family down from their home in Hinsdale for the parade, went to high school in a nearby neighborhood.
“If you grew up here, there’s just so many familiar faces,” she said.