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Chicago’s Irish community is preparing to paint the city green in March as all three annual historic St. Patrick’s Day parades are set to return to the city. The parades have been on a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The traditional dyeing of the Chicago River and the downtown parade are scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 12, 2022. The very next day at noon the South Side and Northwest Side parades are set to kick off.
“I’m really happy about it, and I think the communities are in need of it,” said Elizabeth Murray-Belcaster, Northwest Side Irish Parade organizer. “I think people are ready for this.” There are already over 100 groups who have signed up for the Northwest Side Irish Parade including religious and educational institutions, community groups, Irish dancers and bagpipes, and drum groups.
The organizers of the South Side Irish Parade anticipate the participation of around 100 groups and organizations at their 2022 parade. “It’s a big piece of the community and we need something to look forward to, and we’re ready,” said Don Larisey, co-chair of this year’s event.
Last week Kelly Leyden, a Chicago Police Officer working on the South Side of Chicago, was crowned the queen of the downtown parade at the Plumbers Hall in West Town. Both Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Governor JB Pritzker were in attendance at the event. “We all know and look forward to this occasion, not only the dyeing of the river but the parade and gathering together,” Pritzker said.
The contest for the parade’s queen is open to women of Irish ancestry between the ages of 18 and 29. This year’s contest was held virtually in January. Leyden was chosen from a group of five finalists.
Event organizers say they will be monitoring the pandemic and make adjustments as needed. Security at the events will be stepped up due to anticipated large crowds.
Parade officials are working with restaurants and bars along the parade routes encouraging their participation. “Our big message is to keep it safe, community-friendly, and enjoy the day for what it is: a celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and a celebration of our entire community,” said Elizabeth Murray-Belcaster.
Both the South Side and Northwest Side parades are kicking off at noon on Sunday, March 13, 2022. The South Side parade will step off at 103rd Street and Western Avenue and proceed south along Western Avenue to 115th Street. The Northwest Side parade will kick off at William J. Onahan School, 6634 W. Raven Street, and proceed along N. Neola Avenue to N. Northwest Highway to Harlem Avenue.
Written by Ebonee Stevenson
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
WTTW: Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parades to Return in March; by Kristen Thometz
NBC 5 Chicago: Chicago’s South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade Organizers Release Details on Big 2022 Return
Chicago Sun-Times: After COVID-19 cancellations, Chicago cop crowned queen of downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade; by Tom Schuba
All Images Courtesy of Katie K’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License