Organizers confident S. Side Irish Parade will happen

February 17, 2012 4:28:40 PM PST
Organizers for the South Side Irish parade met with officials at Chicago's City Hall Friday.

The parade was discontinued two years ago because parade goers were out of control. The city wants to know what parade organizers are doing to keep crowds under control this year.

After the closed door meeting with police officials, Metra and others, parade organizers are confident the parade will march on once again.

"We are fully confident, yeah, we're moving forward," said Joe Connelly, parade committee chair.

Although the initial permit was granted in January, the final permit will be issued when parade organizers pay the bill for city services, which includes barricades and parade signs. A pre-parade party on Saturday will help them raise those funds.

"We are about, I'd say, three quarters of the way there, so we're doing real good and with a successful party tomorrow we'll meet our goal," said Connelly.

The group is raising $200,000 to cover their costs. Much of that will go into private security. Over 200 guards are going to patrol the parade route, aiding Chicago police.

"There is no parade in the city of Chicago that puts forth a security plan," said Jim "Skinny" Sheahan, parade committee. "This is the first time anybody has ever hired a private security company. We are doing the things we were asked to do by the public, and we think we got a very good plan."

The South Side Irish Parade was shut down for two years after drunken violence. Residents along the parade route vocalized their concerns saying they did not want another out-of-control event in their neighborhood. They turned to 19th Ward Alderman Matt O'Shea, a former parade committee member, who agreed.

After Friday's meeting, the alderman says the new plans are headed in a good direction and hopes the safe family friendly parade of the past returns.

"There is a lot more work to be done, but the many concerns my community has as far as public safety I feel are being addressed," said O'Shea. "We're not there yet, but I think we'll be there if we continue to meet and we continue to work on these problems."

The parade committee is planning to meet again with residents. They plan to share their security plans with neighbors on the parade route in a public meeting that will take place sometime in the next 10 days. The parade will go on right now as scheduled on March 11.