CHICAGO (CBS) — Could there again be a South Side Irish parade next March?
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports organizers are hoping to resurrect it.
The parade used to run down Western Avenue between 103rd and 115th streets in the Beverly neighborhood.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports
It was an annual event on St. Patrick’s Day for more than 30 years, but it was canceled after the 2009 event.
That year, there were 54 arrests, including one for an assault on a police officer. That followed several years of complaints that rowdy drunkenness, public urination and other unwelcome behavior had invaded the quiet family community of Beverly.
But now, the city’s former Special Events Director, James “Skinny” Sheahan, is among the group looking to bring the parade back next March. He tells the Chicago Sun-Times there would be zero tolerance for public drinking, and a greater focus on making it family-friendly.
He told the Sun-Times the parade was a tradition that had been “goofed up” by some drunken “idiots.”
Sheahan and other supporters are looking for a one-year trial return of the parade next year. They are discussing a proposal that would shorten the parade in length and time, and another that would create a perimeter that would forbid alcohol consumption in an area surrounding the route, the Sun-Times reported.
The parade actually got its start thanks to some Beverly residents who were mourning the loss of an earlier discontinued parade. In 1979, the parade Web site says, George Hendry and Pat Coakley were reminiscing about the old 79th Street parade that later moved downtown. It occurred to them to create a new parade for their neighbors, and that March 17, they gathered 17 children to march in the neighborhood, along with one makeshift float made from a baby buggy.
When it was canceled, the parade was drawing hundreds of thousands of revelers from all over the world every year. It was officially replaced in 2010 with a festival with art exhibits, films, soda bread contests and live performances at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St.
But also in 2010, busloads of revelers came to the Irish pubs along Western Avenue in an effort to keep the tradition alive, parade or not.