South Side Irish Parade continues St. Patrick's Day festivities

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The sounds of St. Patrick's Day filled Chicago's South Side Sunday afternoon as tens of thousands turned out for the annual South Side Irish Parade. (WLS)

The sounds of St. Patrick's Day filled Chicago's South Side Sunday afternoon as tens of thousands turned out for the annual South Side Irish Parade.

It was just a few years ago the parade got so rowdy, organizers shut things down, but Sunday, the only rowdiness was among kids fighting for candy tossed from the floats.

The parade stepped off as Chicago welcomed the unofficial start of spring.

After a ceremonial ribbon cutting, the parade started with the Irish-American Labor Council serving as this year's Grand Marshal and the Chicago Police Memorial Fund, which raises money the families of fallen police officers, as its special honoree.

"In a climate of a lot of anti-police sentiment and officers being shot recently just for being the police, I think this is a great opportunity to shine a positive light on law enforcement," said John Gordono, Chicago Police Memorial Fund project manager.

The festivities began at 103rd in the Beverly neighborhood, traveling down Western to 115th Street in Morgan Park with more than 100 entries.

While a handful of notable politicians made an appearance, most of the parade consist of neighborhood floats and bands.

Once again the Morgan Park High School marching band was a favorite, while parade goers also enjoyed the Noggeler, a unique 50-piece marching band from Lucerne, Switzerland, as well as an appearance by the visiting Irish delegation led by one of Ireland's government ministers.

"This is a spectacular parade, the biggest I've ever seen and the best," said Jimmy Deenihan.

This is the fourth year the parade has been held since being suspended for two years due to concerns over public alcohol consumption.

Warmer weather drew an estimated 200,000 spectators, and police reported no arrests or incidents along the parade route.

A police presence along with temporary surveillance cameras were in place, just in case the event's zero tolerance effort, which prohibits drinking near the parade route, was tested.

"We're prepared not concerned," said parade committee chairman Tom McGourty.

The city's parade downtown on Saturday featured guests from across the country and around the world. Dressed in green from head to toe, thousands lined Columbus Drive. For some, this was their first time to see the parade. For others, it's a longtime tradition.

If you missed the parade, you can re-watch it here.

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familySt. Patrick's DayparadeChicago - Beverly
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