Chicagoans celebrate the return of the South Side St. Patrick’s Day Parade

By Sam Tucker, Photojournalist

The South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade made its return on Sunday, filling Western Avenue’s sidewalks with South Siders clad in St. Patrick’s day attire, marking the return after a two-year hiatus due to COVID19.

The streets of Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood were filled with Chicagoans in their best Irish green to attend the South Side Irish Parade, a tradition for South Siders since 1980. The parade included floats decorated by organizations ranging from the local high schools and parishes, to the Windy City Ghostbusters and the Chicago Police Department Mounted Patrol Unit.

At the start of the parade, Don Larisey, the South Side Irish Parade Committee co-chair, said he was excited for the yearly St. Patrick’s Day tradition to make its return to Western Avenue.

“The parade, traditionally, is kind of the spring awakening, if you will, after winter,” Larisey said. “When you get to March and you get to the parade and neighbors come out, the snow is melting, it starts to get warmer and everyone’s excited for that spring to come.”

This year, the South Side Irish St. Patrick Day Parade honored Catholic school teachers and the Tom Hopkins Foundation as the grand marshal and honoree of the event.

“We’re really excited to get the chance to honor and have a day in celebration in honor of them,” Larisey said. “And to get the families and the kids back out there so they can have the memories of the parade like I did growing up.”

Larisey, like many South Siders, sees the South Side Irish Parade as the kick-off of the spring season. On the day of the parade, 52-degree weather and sunshine poured onto Western Avenue.

“It was really nice to go back outside. I think it’s been two years since we went to a parade,” said Thomas Ochocinski, a Pilsen resident who came to the parade with his children.

Another paradegoer, Anastasia O’Meara, grew up on the South side and has been to the parade for a number of years. She said she was happy the community could come together and celebrate the yearly tradition they all remember.

“You know, the hiatus that we were in for two years, we couldn’t have a great time,” O’Meara said. “This is the best parade on the South Side, the biggest Irish parade, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”