Irish Parade returning to South Side

February 7, 2012 4:41:19 AM PST
After a two-year absence, the South Side Irish Parade is coming back, but not everyone is happy about it.

The parade was scrapped after complaints that parade-goers were getting out of control.

Arrests. Alcohol-induced fights. Countless injuries, even to law enforcement. It's not hard to understand why the South Side Irish Parade was called off for two years.

What's hard for 19th Ward Alderman Matt O'Shea to understand, is why anyone would want To bring it back.

"If one person is injured, if we have any tragic event here because of this parade, how are we all going to feel Monday morning March 12th?" O'Shea asked.

But the parade is coming back. A permit to hold the parade was issued, parade organizers have begun fundraising and are already halfway to their $2,000 goal. Organizers promise sweeping changes.

"We're working with an organization called S3, who has a lot of experience working with the city and municipalities and big events," said Joe Connelly, chairman of the South Side Irish Parade Committee.

Organizers not only plan to dish out $80,000 in private security, but also plan to launch a new emergency phone number to use on the day of the parade to call in incidents happening live for instant police response.

O'Shea admits the security plans he's seen so far won't cut it.

"I have not seen a public safety plan that makes the neighborhood safe that I'm comfortable with, nor has the Chicago Police department," he said.

While the parade brings many benefits to area businesses and real estate, folks like Ken Urbon who have been in this neighborhood for decades, believe it brings more harm than good, and don't want to see it come back.

"It's not going to be able to be policed, there isn't enough police manpower, private security doesn't have the power of arrest, and the kids will be back drinking," Urbon said.

Despite the opposition the South Side Irish Parade will march on. It's scheduled for Sunday march 11 at 11 a.m.

There are fewer floats this year, 80 in total, which will make the parade a little shorter.

Parade organizers now have a phone number and a website where people can reach them

South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade contact info:
10934-A S. Western Ave.