Reporting Derrick Blakley
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CHICAGO (CBS) — A long time Irish tradition is back after a two-year absence.
It’s the South Side Irish Parade, and CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley says there’s anticipation in the air.
Outside the Beverly Bakery, the “No Parking” signs are already posted. The chefs are roasting veggies for Guinness stew, and they’ve already cooked up amaretto cupcakes, all in anticipation of the crowds at Sunday’s return of the South Side Irish Parade.
“It’s gonna be great. We’ve been very busy this week. It’s a positive thing for the neighborhood,” James Quinlan says.
The parade had been a Southwest Side springtime staple since 1979. But in 2009, a spate of underage drinking, public rowdiness and 54 arrests triggered cancellation of the event for two years.
“The bars don’t cause a lot of the problems. People stay in the bars. They drink in the bars, they’re fine. It’s the people that are walking up and down the street, who come into town already drunk, that cause a lot of the problems,” Devra Brenn of Cork & Kerry Tavern says.
Friday, county inmates were cleaning up Western Avenue, and organizers have hired hundreds of private security guards to keep things in line on Sunday.
Big bars like the Cork & Kerry aren’t only preparing to sell alcohol,
they’re preparing to dispose of it as well. Police promise zero tolerance for alcohol abuse.
Something has to soak up all that beer, which is why Waldo Cooney’s Pizza Spot is expecting a big, big day.
“Chicago’s a big pizza city. Beer and pizza’s like peanut butter and jelly – you’ve got to have one with the other, so it kind of goes hand in hand,” manager Jonathan Dowell says.
Bars and taverns outside Beverly are being discouraged from chartering busloads of revelers who often arrive at the parade inebriated.
Any buses will be parked a mile away from the parade route, and police will be watching at Metra stations for riders heading to Beverly with open alcohol.
The crowd is expected to be around 150,000. That’s about half the size of the last parade crowd three years ago.