15th Annual Fleadh kicks off St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Oak Forest

Christian Piekos Image
Saturday, March 2, 2024
15th Annual Fleadh kicks off Oak Forest St. Patrick's Day celebrations
The annual Oak Forest Fleadh and St. Patrick's Day parade kicked off on Saturday morning.

OAK FOREST, Ill. (WLS) -- South suburban Oak Forest was awash in green on Saturday, celebrating St. Patrick's Day just a few weeks early during its 15th Annual Fleadh.

"Just a South Side tradition that's been here for years," said attendee Robert Getzloff. "Everybody's out to get together, join up with friends and have a good time."

You might be asking yourself what the word Fleadh even means. It's actually Gaelic for "festival" or "banquet."

"It's a culmination of fitness, family and fun," said Fleadh organizer Kim Malecky-Iles. "It's just great to get people out and moving and enjoying time with family and friends."

Neighbors gathered along Central Avenue for the family parade earlier Saturday. Festive floats shared the luck of the Irish, passing through the community and tossing beads and candy for kiddos.

Fifth-grader Braydon Huguelet was there for the sweets.

"They throw candy out, and you gotta rush through the crowd basically get them as fast as you can," Huguelet said.

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With the sun shining, parents were just excited to get their kids out of the house and into the spring-like weather.

"Very energetic, lots of candy, beautiful weather," said Oak Forest resident Paige Priest.

Ashley Norkus lives in Tinley Park.

"Were having a great time. Good music, lots of candy. Kids are dancing," Norkus said.

The Oak Forest Fleadh got to a jumpstart on Saturday morning with a 5K fun run, bringing hundreds of people together to start the annual Irish celebration on the right foot.

"The best part was just having a bunch of people from their houses cheer me on," said first-place runner Neal Edgren.