Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Return of the Prodigal Parade

Today represents the culmination of a 2 year battle to bring back the famed St. Patrick's Day Parade to the southside of Chicago.  Kegs have been ordered.  Soda bread is warming. Irish sweaters are laid out for all red-headed children named Colin or Killian or Brigid.  Bag pipers and firemen from all around the country are descending on the area now to rejoice in the wonderful history of Irish culture.

My awesome crocheted leprechaun hats purchased though this lady were picked up yesterday.
Still, tensions remain very high.

While many neighbors are ready to slaughter the fatted calf (and turn it into some tasty corned beef) to mark the return of the Prodigal Parade, others are not so happy.  They too are preparing for this day.  They have charged their cameras and cell phones.  They have staked out the perimeter.  They lay in wait to record all over-served bladders who think dropping trou in a local backyard or alley is a good idea.  The authorities will be notified.  Instant justice will be doled out.  You-Tube humiliation awaits anyone who embarrasses the spirit of the parade.

I completely appreciate both sides of the issue.  I love the parade.  I love the backyard parties of friends who welcome anyone who has ever worn a public servant's uniform.  I love the gazillions of little freckled-faced children who arrive in wagons and strollers.  I love the fact that this year will be dedicated to Cpl. Conner Lowry, and Conner's own mother will be cutting the ribbon just a day after her son's funeral.  Tradition means a lot around here.   

I dislike the sloppy displays of drunkenness which often border on dangerous.  Chartered buses arrive by the dozens to drop off parade revelers.  Thankfully, the vast majority are very respectful of the neighborhood and its people.   

Yet it only takes a few bad apples to ruin it for everyone.  In 2009 (the last year of the parade), 54 people were arrested and the number of violent attacks on police officers was unacceptable.

After a two-year hiatus, the parade is back.  Private security firms have been hired.  A zero-tolerance policy regarding open alcohol and violence is being employed.  For handy reference, here is my guide in case anyone is confused about proper parade etiquette:
  • Do not pee on someone's Little Tykes playhouse
  • Do not do naughty things with members of the opposite sex (or same sex for that matter) inside someone's Little Tykes playhouse
  • Do not wander drunkenly into the backyard of anyone with a Little Tykes playhouse
  • If you see a Little Tykes playhouse, assume the owner is a policeman with a gun, a video camera, and handcuffs
At the end of the day, neighbors love a good party as much as anyone.  They just want their kids to have a good time and not witness the brawls, vomiting, sex, and pee that unfortunately have come to define the parade for some.

So here's to a great day and return to civility. 

Erin go Bragh!

My Little People vision of the parade.  They are anatomically unable to pee.  Perfect.


  1. and remember two important words....Bond Money

  2. Up at 5...shower taken, water bottles filled...and I walk up to the gym, only to find it closed....a major WTF moment for me. How will my chiseled body survive?

  3. 'People I Want to Punch in the Throat' is in the lead. I have to say this woman may be my twin soul out there. Glad she is blogging my thoughts so I can spend my time more productively, on things like laundry. We will not be going to the parade. Maybe when the children are older and can walk farther than 1/2 block without whining. Or maybe I'll just send them off and stay home alone and do laundry:)

  4. Ours is next weekend. We get all greened up and go every year. I love it.

  5. I took my children to the last south side parade and I must say I love the parade so much the shannon rovers and the bag pipers are my favorite just the sound of them brings tears to my eyes. I grew up on the southside and am very proud of my Irish heritage. Just found your blog today=)-Maryellen

  6. We do not have Irish. We do not have fish fry on Friday. We do not have parades. We do not even have GREEN BEER! If Dante had envisioned an eighth level of hell? North Carolina would have been it.
    Sincerely, a Yankee girl stuck in the south.

  7. Did you knit those hats for your kids?! LOVED the lil peeps :) NO PEEING!!!!

  8. Uggghh, I have been in situations where I have had to shield my precious little ones eyes from the grotesque, mutant, evil of a drunk man urinating on the side of a fence. Then I have had to explain "it's o.k. kids, daddy just had one to many beers"

    Kidding!!! Or am I???
    Peeing on Little Tykes?? BAD!!

    P.S. I have been voting!

  9. Hee hee, Love the Little people parade and I hope that the day goes off without too much trouble.

    Also expect to see lots of pics, so get snapping.

    Off to vote for you again. So glad to see you in the top 10. :)

  10. I am thinking you should board up the little tyke they do for hurricanes! Very festive little people!

  11. Maplewood - no need! Talk about a perfect family-friendly day! Sorry about the gym. ):

    Anonymous - You missed a great parade. Best yet. Next year, right????

    Ali - hope you get a beautiful day. It was like 70 degrees here in Chicago and the crowd was perfect. Best wishes on your parade!

    Maryellen - welcome to the blog & thanks for reading. It was a perfect parade. No rowdiness, no peeing. And the weather!! We just don't get weather like this around here in March! Come back soon!

    Kirby - I can't believe it! My husband was talking about retiring to North Carolina just the other day. This could change everything. A world without green beer isn't really a world I want to call home.

    Mrs. Luttrell - I totally can't even sew a button on a shirt - I commissioned the hats. There was no peeing this year. A southside first! I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming!

    J.R. - Thanks for voting! We've gone in past years and I figured if nothing else, the parade served as a cautionary tale against excessive alcohol consumption. As far as Little Tykes, why, one never saw so many power washers out as the day AFTER the parade.

    Lily - Thanks & I took tons of pictures. But I did drop my camera like 5 times, so this may prove difficult. Will find out soon! Thanks for voting!!

    Andrea - Every time I play with my Little People (that sounds bad), I think of you. Boarding up the Little Tykes house isn't such a bad idea. Though this year was very family-friendly. I hope it lasts into next year!

  12. My arms grow strong and sleek on clicking that button...

  13. oh, I hope this is a new trend for you that you try to include your little fisher price people in every post somehow. I love them!


  14. I love how Bert and Ernie made it as little people!!

  15. I have to make a confession and hopefully will not get slammed or ousted from the blogosphere...

    I remember going to the parade in my 20s (with Marianne, I might add) and I also remember doing some peeing outside, although not in a little tykes playhouse. Just sayin...