Calmer South Side Irish Parade Returns To Beverly

CHICAGO (CBS) — After popular demand, a South Side tradition has returned. The South Side Irish Parade kicked off Sunday morning, after a two-year hiatus.

This year, there were some major changes to ensure a family-fun atmosphere, unlike three years ago when crowds got so out of control that organizers decided to stop holding the annual parade.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the parade also included a heartfelt goodbye to a South Side hero.

Modie Lavin, the mother of the late Marine Cpl. Conner Lowry, cut the ribbon to kick off the restart of the South Side tradition. Lowry, a Beverly neighborhood native, was killed in combat in Afghanistan earlier this month and was laid to rest on Saturday.

Family and friends said Lowry was a very proud South Side Irishman and was one of the biggest fans of the Beverly neighborhood’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Lowry’s friend, Jim West, said, “he loved this parade, and every year he came up here, and the great part of this parade, every year with all of his friends.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Michele Fiore reports

The South Side Irish Parade returned Sunday, after a two-year hiatus prompted by complaints about drunken behavior and violence.

First-time parade goer Bob Brosmore said, “Glad they brought it back, you know, glad they brought it back.”

Compared to 2009, the parade looked and felt significantly different. The crowd was much smaller and quieter than the last few years before it was shut down. It looked and felt significantly different.

In the last few years before the hiatus, the parade had become such a popular drinking event that it drew of more than 300,000 people, including many underage drinkers and college students who bused in from around the state.

Sunday’s crowd was far smaller. Organizers estimated 150,000 people attended the parade, about 80 percent of them from nearby communities. They also estimated about half the crowd was school-age children.

Margaret Murray said this year’s parade was much calmer and more family-friendly.

“This year is very calm,” she said. “It’s just, it’s quieter. The people are more calmer. It’s a lot friendlier. It’s good.”

The parade started in 1979 as a small St. Patrick’s Day parade organized by a group of Beverly and Morgan Park residents, and the only marchers were local children.

It gradually grew in size and popularity over the years until many compared the atmosphere to Mari Gras. After the 2009 parade, organizers shut down the parade because of dozens of arrests, many for violence. Local residents said the underage drinking and rowdiness had grown out of control.

The biggest difference this year was that organizers committed to a zero-tolerance on alcohol. No alcohol was permitted outside of the bars along the parade route and North Side bars were even contacted and urged not to send chartered buses to the parade.

Organizers also hired private security to set up checkpoints to make sure parade goers don’t walk up with open alcohol containers. Several hundred security guards and police were in place before and during the parade, just in case.

Paul Gerlach, a security guard with S3 Security, said “I think that a lot of the press and a lot of the information that got out about no alcohol really helped a lot. We see a lot of families out here, instead of a lot of young drinking groups.”

McMcClory said he started coming to the parade when he was a child and he was glad he could feel safe bringing his own children to the parade this year.

“I started coming here since when I was, maybe, 7th grade, or something like that. It’s so much nicer now. I haven’t seen one person with a beer. It’s very … well behaved,” he said.

His son, Sean McClory said what he liked about this year’s parade was, “it brings families together.”

“Hopefully my grandkids, his grandkids, hopefully it goes on for a long time,” his father added.

Deana Segreti brought her children from Lake Zurich for their first visit to the parade

“My parents have been living in the neighborhood for 24 years and I never missed it,” she said. “This is the first year that I’ve brought both of my kids to the parade.”

Now she’s passing a favorite childhood memory to her kids.

“I want to carry on tradition, since my parents brought me, and I wanted to bring my kids,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun, and we’re having a great time, and its beautiful day.”

For parade goers, it didn’t matter that there were fewer floats and performances at this year’s parade, making it much shorter than in years past, at just over an hour long.

Even so, there was lot of excitement in the air.

“It’s just a lot of fun and people just love it,” said one of the children on float from St. Linus in Oak Lawn.

All the children said they hope to be back next year.

Chicago police said that, as of mid-afternoon Sunday, there had been no arrests reported at the parade, unlike 2009, when there were 54 parade-related arrests.

  • Mike Schott

    Did WBBM’s editors go to school in the state of IL?

    Prepositions and adverbs are not capitalized unless they are the first word in a sentence, title, or subject line.

    If thiz really the best that can be done in the name of the best news radio station in the world, give me the job. I’ll do much better.

    How am I supposed to be able to believe what you report, if you can’t even write right?

    • JEREMY

      I strongly doubt that you can do any better ,Mike ,seeing as how YOU CAN’T EVEN SPELL CORRECTLY!!!

      CASE IN POINT: “if thiz really the best that can be done in the name of the best news radio station in the world, give me the job.”

      It should read, “If this is really…….”

      As it is, it would seem that you and the WBBM editors all went to the same school, and as such,you are ALL the products of the Illinois Public School

  • Army Vet,VN

    Was this the drunk and crook parade????

  • Army Vet,VN

    Hey CBS2 you going to give St Joesph Day some print,or will you be still talking St.Patrick’s Day,I mean give someone else some recognition I still think this is America.not ironland or kenya.

    • JEREMY

      NOTE TO Army Vet:

      I think you mean IRELAND.

      The only “ironland” that comes to my mind would be a recreational park for

      If you would really like to see more extensive coverage of St. Joseph’s Day,
      log on to “” .

  • Jen D

    As a parade attendee, neighborhood resident, and fan of the parade overall I disagree with much of what has been represented here. The early time was an issue for many who attended and the shorter length at what seemed like half the number of floats and bands was a major let down. I do like the safer environment and organization, but did feel like all of the watching eyes were militant. We are still citizens and can handle ourselves once a law has been established for 0 tolerance and enforced. Passing dozens of law enforcement and private security officers was beyond excessive. Check to make sure the views advertised by the media accurately reflect as many of the attendees and residents as possible, not only the ones you want viewed/displayed.

  • Army Vet,VN

    Same to you monitor.

  • Mike

    Sean and Charlie walking and playing in the parade was Excellent. Best band on the southside by far!!!!

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