South Side Irish Parade

In years past Chicago's South Side Irish Parade has been quite an event. From what I gather from life long Beverly residents, the drinking started early and the festivities went late. Two years ago, organizers of the parade decided to put an end to the party. After 54 arrests in 2009 the Beverly neighborhood's 30 year tradition came to a screeching halt. Two St. Patrick's days came and went without a bagpipe brigade or curly haired Irish dancer doing a jig down Western.

Southside Irish Parade 2012 - Shamrocks a' plenty

But this year, the parade returned. In 2012 though, the parade organizers had a decidedly different agenda. Sure there were plenty of Aran sweaters to be found. Once again Western was lined with red hair and green gear. Bagpipes were the festive soundtrack of the day. But, "family friendly" was the catchphrase heard on the street. Well, "family friendly" and "zero tolerance." And from what I witnessed the re-brand was successful.

Southside Irish Parade 2012 - Aran sweaters for all

Parade organizers report that 150,000 people were in attendance on Sunday morning, many of whom were little lads and lasses. Though the crowds were half what was reported in 2009, there was an air of excitement and neighborhood pride that permeated the whole event. "South Side Irish" t shirts, sweatshirts and other paraphernalia were worn by residents with pride and the Beverly neighborhood was a fantastic host. Its charm and history were evident as we walked to and from the parade route. I was particularly touched by the way the whole event was embraced by multiple generations. It definitely was a "Family Friendly" event.

Southside Irish Parade 2012 - no shortage of bagpipes

We were fortunate enough to be invited to celebrate the day by one of the local families and some really amazing friends. {I'm kicking myself for not taking any pictures of us together, Missi!} Before watching the parade we heard all about the event in years past. We watched as little ones begged their parents to get to the parade route. We laughed and listened to stories and enjoyed the pretty much perfect weather.  And of course we ate. No St. Patrick's day celebration is complete without the corned beef. I swear I ate my weight in corned beef on Sunday afternoon, and I loved every salty bite.

My Honey & Me

The South Side Irish Parade was definitely another great introduction to Chicago. With a bit of Irish blood coursing through my veins, St. Patty's day has always been one of my favorite holidays. Getting to be part of an historic event with such a welcoming and hysterical family was something to be treasured. Plus, the event was a great primer for this weekend's festivities. Chicago's annual Saint Patrick's Day Parade is happening just a mile from our place this Saturday at noon. The river will be dyed green, the bagpipes will be blaring and I plan to find plenty of corned beef and cabbage to fill my belly.

What are your favorite St. Patrick's Day traditions, plans or memories?