Fundraiser aids return of Irish Parade

February 18, 2012 8:48:31 PM PST
A fundraiser was held Saturday night for the expected return of Chicago's South Side Irish Parade, with parade organizers and the city working to bring it back after a two-year absence.

"It's wonderful! It's great to see the area, and the neighborhood show up and lend their support," said Cathy Hayes.

Call it a pre-St. Patrick's Day party with a cause. Shamrock green was everywhere as close to 1,000 South Siders packed Marionette Park's 115 Bourbon Street to help raise funds for the South Side Irish Parade, which makes its comeback March 11.

"It's always been fun to go," said Mariann Coyle. "I used to bring my kids when they were little. Now they are all grown up."

That is what organizers hope the parade will again be. A family event. Cancelled in 2009 as a result of out-of-control partygoers, the committee leading the push to bring back the parade has its hands full. Saturday's party was, in part, to raise money for the private security firm they had to agree to bankroll for the city to give its approval.

"This year's parade is all about family, safety, neighborhood," said parade chairman Joe Connelly.

"We don't want people coming in from colleges and we don't want people coming in from bars and stuff like that," said parade committee member Jim "Skinny" Sheahan. "They're not from the community."

Committee members say they need $200,000 to cover all their expenses. Saturday night could go a long way to getting them to that goal. Between ticket sales, a raffle and a silent auction, it is the neighborhood itself that is voting with their pocketbooks to bring the parade back.