South Side Irish parade a success, no arrests

March 12, 2012 4:28:43 AM PDT
After a two-year absence, the South Side Irish Parade stepped off again Sunday.

The parade was cancelled after the 2009 event resulted in 54 arrests and more than 300,000 people crammed into the Beverly neighborhood.

Sunday, a smaller crowd turned out for a more family-friendly event and no one was arrested.

"We're very excited that its back because this is going to be the first parade for...my two sons," said Bridget Duigman.

Years of drunken disorderly conduct, fights, arrests and very large crowds led to the cancellation. Organizers, however, raised money for private security and got the city to bring back the parade under stricter conditions this year.

"I think the last couple of years there was always something missing on the Sunday," said parade chairman Joe Connelly.

This year's parade had a patriotic theme. Post 9/11 veterans from the Beverly neighborhood were grand marshals.

There was also a tribute to native son Marine Cpl. Conner Lowry, who was killed in Afghanistan March 1. His mother, Modie Lavin, cut the ribbon to kick off the festivities while many of Lowry's family and friends wore special t-shirts and shoes in his memory.

"He's looking down on us now," said Lowry's brother, Charlie Lavin. "We're going to have a good time, celebrate the way he would have wanted."

The parade then marched down Western Avenue with 80 different groups walking the route.

"This is a very Irish community and a very neighborhood community," said parade organizer James "Skinny" Sheahan.

Chicago police along with the private security hired by local bars and businesses enforced a zero tolerance for alcohol along the parade route.

"At this time, there have been relatively few incidents," said Chicago police Cmdr. Robert Hargesheimer. "The parade went off very well."

It went well for local vendors, too after the parade's three-year hiatus.

"I'm happy, very happy," vendor Julio Deliguerra said. "I make some money."

Although the crowd was smaller, many were happy with tradition once again marching on.

"It shows just how united the whole South Side is," parade goer Marita Ready said.

The 2012 Chicago Saint Patrick's Day Parade is downtown on March 17. For more information, visit http://www.chicagostpatsparade.com/parade.html


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