Irish Eyes smile, vote on Chicago as U.S. headquarters for St. Patrick's Day

Gemma, 3, and Avery, 4, watch their first Southside Irish parrade in Chicago.

March 12, 2013 3:29:46 PM PDT
St. Patrick's Day lasts longer than 24 hours in Chicago, and celebrations often stretch across a week- or more. That's one of the reasons Shamrock Chicago proclaimed the Windy City as the U.S. headquarters for St. Patrick's Day.

"Shamrock Chicago, for the past three months, has had the goal of recognizing our great city for what we all know it to be: the U.S. headquarters of St. Patrick's Day," Seamus Byrne, president Ireland Network Chicago, said.

Why Chicago? Well, the many St. Patrick's Day parades, of course, and the dying of the Chicago River green.

"The fact that we have the world's greatest Irish dancer alive, Michael Flatley," Bob McManamara said. "Or my mother if you want to go that route. My mother taught for 40 years."

St. Patrick's Day Parade Queen Bridget McMahan Fitzgerald presented a proclamation plaque to Consul General of Ireland Aiden Cronin. Yes, Chicago is all American--Irish.

So, now what thousands of Irish-American Chicagoans have known forever is official: Chicago is now the U.S. headquarters for St. Patrick's Day. All it took was a Chicago election. Twelve thousand votes were cast in an online election at All votes were in favor of being the national headquarters for St. Patrick's Day. Not one was against.

Wait a second.

"It is an honest election," Marlene Byrnes, Shamrock Chicago. "Well, if you're honest, you only vote once and then you get your family to vote ... Absolutely."

But Consul General Cronin said the proclamation is beyond his power.

"I can't declare Chicago the headquarters. St. Patrick's Day is a worldwide celebration of the Irish, of Ireland and the headquarters of St. Patrick's Day is essentially Ireland and everything scatters out from that," Consul Cronin said.

Obviously Consul Cronin doesn't understand Chicago elections. Voting is still open- until Sunday midnight.