It will be a somber St. Patrick’s Day for those of us slowly coming to terms with the absence of our beloved South Side Irish Parade. On March 25th of 2009, the South Side St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee announced that the event would be cancelled, indefinitely. The decision was welcomed by some, but widely regarded as the end of a cherished era by most.
For many, the parade was as much a staple for their neighborhood as any event; so much so, that it grew in popularity every year and eventually became too large to manage. Or so the explanation goes.
While there were many legitimate factors that influenced the cancellation, (namely public intoxication, trampled property, unruly behavior) none represent what gave the parade its heart and soul: the families. It was about gathering to celebrate our Irish heritage, but you always got the sense there was more to it than that. Droves of families and friends poured faithfully each year into Western Avenue like a green human river; walking distances from as short as their front lawns to neighborhoods miles away.
Some of my earliest and fondest memories can be attributed to that parade. I watched it with my family and relatives as a child; marched in it as a boy scout; attended it with dear friends as a teenager; played in it as part of the Marist High School Marching Band and returned to it as a spectator, and an adult. It was an event to share with your children, and your children’s children. A gathering of proud people surrounded by the buildings and streets they love. It was the celebration of the neighborhoods the event represented, and the stores you rode your bike to as a kid. It was the South Side Irish Parade, and it was ours.
(Replacing the event will be the South Side Irish Parade Family Fest, held on Saturday, March 13th, hosted by the Beverly Arts Center. The daylong festival features family-friendly activities including: bag pipers, an Irish soda bread contest, a small children’s parade, dancers, a best dressed “Irish dog” contest and an array of Irish-themed arts.)
Admission (from 11am-4pm): $10 Adults,
$7 Seniors, Free for children under 12
Admission (after 4pm): All tickets $25