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South Side Irish Parade Expected To Make A Comeback Next Month

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Bagpipers march in the 2009 South Side Irish Parade. Organizers shut down the parade after that year due to drunken violence among the crowd. Organizers plan a one-year trial of a new parade with a zero-tolerance policy on alcohol in 2012. (Credit: CBS)

Bagpipers march in the 2009 South Side Irish Parade. Organizers shut down the parade after that year due to drunken violence among the crowd. Organizers plan a one-year trial of a new parade with a zero-tolerance policy on alcohol in 2012. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — President Clinton marched in it, and President Obama has sung its praises, but that didn’t stop organizers from canceling the last two South Side Irish parades.

In the coming days, though, the city is expected to issue a permit that is essentially a new lease on life.

Two years ago, the massive party known as the South Side Irish Parade came to a stop. The reasons: underage drinking and drug- and alcohol-fueled brawls. That forced the cancellation of the 2010 and 2011 parades.

More than 30 people and officials at a City Hall conference emerged from the closed-door meeting Friday confident that the parade will be back next month.

Even the alderman who led the fight against the parade seemed to admit as much.

“I would say today there will be a South Side Irish Parade on March 11,” said 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea.

O’Shea says the security plan that was presented Friday eased his concerns.

“I want the South Side Irish Parade that I grew up with back. I don’t want what we had the last few years,” he said.

O’Shea’s uncle, Jim “Skinny” Sheahan, helped lead the fight to bring the parade back — at times over Ald. O’Shea’s vehement objections.

“The Irish are known to disagree with each other once in a while,” Skinny Sheahan said.

Sheahan admits that the Irish parade was broken. He says this year’s security plan, which will feature more than 200 hired security guards, will fix the problems.

“There is no parade in the city of Chicago that puts forth a security plan,” he added.

The chairman of the parade says drinking will not be allowed.

“The Chicago Police Department is committed to enforcing a zero-tolerance policy,” Parade Chairman Joe Connelly said.

The organizers plan to hold public hearings in Beverly in the next 10 days to address the concerns of residents. Tomorrow, there will be a fundraiser at Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park.

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