The Irish Tradition Returns
For the first time since 2009, the South Side Irish Parade is back. After being put on hiatus for two years due to disorderly behavior from the 300,000 plus crowd, the festivities will again take place on Sun., Mar. 11 at 11a.m. The parade is set to go down Western Ave. from 103rd St. to 115th St. and go through the Morgan Park and Beverly neighborhoods. Saint Xavier University's NAIA football national champions are one of the featured floats, being the second in line of the parade.
"I feel honored to be featured in the float, we are the second float, and it is very good for the school. We are after the war veterans so it is a great honor," said Anthony LaBanca, a senior offensive lineman who will be with his teammates by the float. Donations were collected from various supporters and by the surrounding bars on Western Ave. Sean's Rhino Bar on 103rd and Western and Keegan Pub on 106th and Western have helped by donating money to bring back the parade. Carey Sullivai, a manager, of six years at Sean's Rhino Bar is happy to have the parade back. "The parade has brought in so much business from the start of the weekend and more," said Sullivai. Bartenders at Keegan Pub said they are very happy that the parade is back and they support the events that happen that weekend.
Marguerite Duignan, a bartender that has been there for 15 years, said the owner is very excited to have the parade once again. "The parade is great for business; people start lining up at like 10a.m. that goes all the way to Cork & Kerry's," Duignan said. SXU students are excited to attend the parade this year as well. Jake Cashman, a senior political science major, has lived in Beverly all his life and has been to every parade. "I like the fact that the parade is back because I am actually 21 years old now and can participate in going to the bars. I plan to go with friends from school and go to Keegan Pub and Cork & Kerry," said Cashman.
Arturo Perez , a junior, international business and Spanish major, is attending the parade for the first time and looks forward to seeing all the great things he has heard about it. "I have be e n a tte n d in g the parade since I was young. My grandparents live in the neighborhood so it has become a time to come together," said Melissa Naegele, a junior, biology major. The parade was taken away because of the reoccurring fights and underage drinking. "I worked the last ten parades; I was pretty shocked because we didn't know why it was cancelled…I didn't understand because I have been working in the bar and didn't see what was going on. I only live a couple blocks away from the parade," said Duignan. "It was inevitable because it was getting out of hand but it was upsetting because it was like a community gathering; it was like they were cancelling our big party and our only bonding time as a community," said Cashman.
The parade committee along with the city of Chicago and the Chicago police department has created a plan to secure the parade from public intoxication, underage drinking and violence. People will be fined if they are caught drinking alcohol through the neighborhoods and during the parade (www.southsideirishparade. org). Local Bars are also enforcing policies to keeping this event safe. Keegan Pub is removing all chairs and tables so that people can enjoy drinking and to keep people from destroying the furniture and harming themselves. "We have two doormen at the door that check for I.D.'s and no one is allowed to leave with alcohol in their hands and everything is served in plastic," said Duignan. Sullivai said, "We have every employee working and the place is safe with eight doormen working to cover all doors and making sure that no one leaves with alcohol. Only those of age get in."
By taking these safety precautions, students—along with the local bars—hope that the parade tradition goes on for many years. "It was shameful that they took it away but I think if they keep it safe then the parade will stick around longer," said Cashman. Naegele hopes this parade continues. "My concern is that people will fight and get super drunk because this was originally a family event not a drunk fest." The parade has been around since 1979 where it started in the blocks of Washtenaw and Talman and on Sun. Mar. 1981 the parade moved to Western, where it has been held ever since (www. southsideirishparade.org).
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