We love the infamous dyeing of the Chicago River and we wholeheartedly agree that when it comes to St. Patrick's Day parades, nobody does it better than the South Side. Still, there are a few lesser-known parades in the Chicago area that warrant a mention, and possibly a short trip.
Elmhurst Saturday, March 14; noon
This Chicago suburb, located just a mere 30 minutes (by car) from the city, is hosting its 13 annual St. Patrick's Day Parade this year. The celebration will begin at Wilson Street and Spring Road and will include a commendable lineup of floats, marching bands and traditional bagpipers. If you're lucky, you may even catch a leprechaun-clad puppy or two. The parade committee prides itself on having one of the best of its kind and even enjoys the smaller crowd it draws. That said, this is the perfect parade for anyone looking to escape the Irish-fueled madness of downtown this year. Additionally, the parade committee will sell raffle tickets to help support both the parade and the Elmhurst Children's Assistance Foundation. Raffle tickets can be purchased at several local businesses including Doc Ryan's Bar and Grill
, Riley's Gathering Place
, Roberto's Ristorante
, The Silverado Grill
and Spring Inn
Saturday, March 14; noon
Celebrate St. Patrick's Day by taking a short road trip to Lake Villa, in north Lake County. Parade festivities will kick off at Palombi School and will continue through the center of town. Onlookers are welcome to jump in and join the lineup of local politicians, marching bands and scout troops. After the parade, guests will be invited to indulge in corned beef and cabbage at the VFW Hall.
Naperville Saturday, March 14; 10 a.m.
In conjunction with the West Suburban Irish, the city of Naperville will host its annual St. Patrick's Day Parade this weekend. Festivities are scheduled to kick off at Naperville North High School (899 N. Mill Street). The parade will continue south on Mill Street, east on Jefferson Avenue, south on Main Street and west on Water Street to the Municipal Center. State Representative Mike Connelly will serve as honorary Grand Marshall and Bridget Deely will play this year's queen. Parade attendees are encouraged to donate a non-perishable food item to benefit the Loaves and Fishes Community Food Pantry. For more information, check out the official West Suburban Irish website
Saturday, March 14; noon
If you'd prefer to be right in the heart of all the Irish action, you'll want to head downtown with the thousands of other green-lovin' locals and visitors. Most will be there bright 'n' early to witness the emerald green transformation of our beloved river. If you plan on attending this one, we recommend arriving ridiculously early via taxi or public transit (dyeing takes place at 10:45 a.m. and parking will, as usual, be impossible), gearing up appropriately (elbow and knee pads, anyone?) and drinking responsibly (we're talking coffee here). Find a decent spot on the East side of the bridge at Columbus Drive and you're golden, or shall we say, green. After the colorful river ritual, the city will kick off its annual parade at noon on Balbo and Columbus and will proceed north on Columbus drive.
Sunday, March 15; noon
The South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade has come a long way since its first celebration on March 17 in 1979. Now, in its 30th year, this popular parade draws in more attendees than the streets can hold. Festivities for 2009 will kick off at 8:30 a.m. with Irish songs and music, followed by mass at 9 a.m. at St. Cajetan church (112th and Artesian). This year, the South Side Irish Parade Committee will honor the Muscular Dystrophy Association as its 2009 Grand Marshal. Expect traditional bagpipers, family-friendly floats and plenty of beer discounts at the nearby Irish pubs.