Chicago celebrates with St. Patrick's Day Parade

March 14, 2010 3:10:39 PM PDT
Saturday's St. Patrick's Day Parade down Columbus Drive marked the 55th year for the celebration.A big crowd gathered again this year despite touch-and-go weather.

Everyone was Irish at this year's parade.

"It's wonderful, more than Ohio," little Shaun Williams said. "I'm not from Illinois."

Saturday's celebration brought out the politicians and those with Irish pride from near and far.

"There's no St. Patty's Day celebration on the East Coast as much. So, it's nice to be in the Midwest," said Michelle Baik, who was visiting from New York City.

Dance troupes, marching bands, and approximately 70 floats -- including ABC7 Chicago's-- entertained the crowds that lined Columbus Drive, while Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen joined the parade of Chicago area dignitaries, including Mayor Daley and Governor Quinn, marching in the afternoon's festivities.

"Turning the river green, that's Chicago's big contribution to how you do a parade," Cowen said.

This year, the downtown St. Patrick's Day celebration began early for some, due in part to rainy weather, but mostly because of the demise of the city's South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade.

But it was no matter to the Franchi brothers, who have made celebrating the day a family tradition.

"We've always enjoyed coming down here. Like my brother said, we welcome the South Side party and friends, as well," Patrick Franchi said.

And so do local businesses that are hoping for a little luck of the Irish.

"We've been very busy. As soon as we opened at 9 o'clock, we had people in here. The bar filled up pretty quickly. We're enjoying the business," said Doug Dowling of South Loop Club.

The 55th annual parade promised to be bigger and better as everyone celebrated a part of the Windy City's heritage.

"I just came out here to try to enjoy Chicago," spectator Joseph Jang said.

Although the parade was over Saturday evening, the celebration of Irish pride was expected to go on for several more hours.

Other celebrations were set to take place Sunday on the city's South Side and at several suburban locations.