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40th annual South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade is Sunday

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This Sunday will mark the 40th annual South Side Irish St. Patrick?s Day Parade and the families behind it took a look back at memories that make us Chicago proud. (WLS)

This Sunday will mark the 40th annual South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade and the families behind it took a look back at memories that make us Chicago proud.

The beat of the drum and the cheer of the crowd at the South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day parade began with very humble beginnings.

"George kept talking about this parade and I thought, this is impossible, it could never happen," said Marianne Coakley, wife of parade co-founder. "March 17th '79 and we had the baby buggy covered with pipe-covering supplies and we decorated with crepe paper and the kids all made banners."

A handful of kids marched around the block with the Hendry and Coakley families and the parade was born.

"I never thought it was going to go beyond that, thought that was it, it kind was a shock the first few years and it as it grew and grew it was something people look forward to, it's a great time," Coakley said.

The parade grew from their driveway to Kennedy Park to the parade we know today that marches down Western Avenue.

Though like any piece of history there were tough times and in 2010 and 2011 the full parade was forced to press pause, but that did not stop the pride on the South Side from marching on.

"Because the two years that it did not have the real parade we got the permit anyhow and the day, what would have been the parade, a little bitty group of us got together at 103rd and Western and we marched from 103rd to 115th," Coakley said.

Marching on and keeping the dreams of parade founders George Hendry and Pat Coakley alive. Returning the focus to family and celebrating 40 years.

"This is wonderful and people love it so because it is a real celebration for families," said Mary Hendry, wife of co-founder George Hendry. "It's a wonderful day for families to get together that's what the parade celebrates."

"I'm proud of the tradition the Hendry's and Coakley started and I'd glad to be carrying on," said Pat Coakley, parade committee.

The parade begins Sunday at noon. This year's grand marshal is Special Olympics Chicago, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
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