South Side celebrates Irish pride

March 15, 2009 3:47:21 PM PDT
Blue skies and lots of green mixed on a perfect day for the South Side Irish Parade Sunday.The event has grown from a small march around the block to one of Chicago's largest parades.

The South Side parade began as the inspiration of two friends sharing some beers on a kitchen table. They wanted to bring back the spirit of the original Southtown parade. And so, as hard as this is to believe, in 1979, 17 children became the parade's first and only participants.

The luck of the Irish was definitely present at Sunday's parade. Perfect March weather combined with a party atmosphere that could not be beat. Even Ireland's minister of science was impressed.

"It's more Irish than Ireland. It's absolutely wonderful. I hate to say it, but I think we brought the good weather for this special day," said Minister Jimmy Devins.

A sea of green stretched out as far as the eye could see along the parade route. Spectators donned outrageous wigs and costumes, making them as much part of the show as the parade itself. It was a lot of fun for people all ages.

"I like it so much. It's so fun. I'd never been to the South Side parade before," little Abby Kelly-Presutti said.

"I've been marching in this parade since I was a kid. It's a great tradition," said Kevin House.

"I go way back, because I'm 86 years old. Go, go team!" said Milly McDonald.

And of course, ABC7 Chicago was present at Sunday's parade. Partying it up with everyone else were Mr. Food, Paul Meinke, Evelyn Holmes, Ben Bradley and Jason Knowles.

The South Side Irish Parade is also a parade with a cause. Proceeds this year will go in part to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. One 5-year-old girl had the honor of being one the parade's grand marshalls. She is also the 2009 MDA Goodwill Ambassador.

In fact, the South Side Irish Parade always selects a charitable organization dedicated to children to support.

The parade is considered the largest neighborhood-based St. Patrick's Day parade held outside of Dublin, Ireland.