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Irish parade to march again in Chicago

Saturday, January 14, 2012

After a three-year absence, it appears the South Side Irish Parade will return in March.

The Chicago Department of Transportation has issued a permit to the parade committee, meaning the parade will again march down Western Avenue March 11.

The approval comes despite the opposition of the neighborhood's alderman.

The parade was canceled in 2009 because of unruly crowds and intoxicated parade goers. The St. Patrick's committee said it will make the parade family friendly and alcohol free on the streets. The group wants police to enforce open container laws and is hiring its own private security to prevent problems like rowdiness from years past.

"This is the most important event we have that goes on in this community," said parade committee member Jim Sheahan. " It is one time a year that this community is at the center of the city of Chicago."

Bill Guide of the Cork and Kerry Bar said he welcomes the return of the parade with 32 years of history.

"In the past, it has been our best day of the year, culturally, economically," he said.

On Thursday, the Southside Irish Saint Patrick's Comittee obtained a permit and made new plans. With the help of businesses and the community, they'll dish out $80,000 to pay for private security and work with Chicago police to bust law breakers.

But area resident Georgia Jordan wonders whether the problems from parades past can be avoided.

"The people were disrespectful of the neighborhood," she said. "It brought in people from the other neighborhoods who were not as friendly to the Beverly area as they could have been."

She is joined by Ald. Matt O'Shea in opposition of the parade.

In a statement he said, "Seeking guidance from the law enforcement community, I shared this plan with several police officials. Each raised valid concerns. Our conclusion is that the plan is well intentioned by terribly insufficient and very difficult to execute."

O'Shea said he may hold public hearings to talk to people about past problems, but it appears the parade is moving forward.

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