I love Chicago, but for St. Patrick’s Day parades and good reasonably priced food, I head out to the suburbs which offer great St. Patrick’s Day festivals without having to sell your first-born son to pay for it all.
Parking at the downtown Chicago parade is expensive and so is the food offered by local restaurants and street vendors. In the suburbs, churches and fraternal groups serve home-style Irish fare at reasonable prices. Parking is usually free.
I grew up in Chicago where policemen, firefighters, and most politicians had Irish surnames. Many of these families later moved to the suburbs where they continue their Irish traditions.
Maybe the entertainment isn’t as slick as the Chicago parade, but the crowds are smaller and you’ll actually be able to see and hear a parade. Best of all, your kids won’t be bored by a three hour extravaganza.
Here are four Chicagoland suburbs which offer special St. Patrick’s Day events. All take place in Illinois, on Saturday, March 16, and are within forty-five minutes of downtown Chicago.
Be sure to check each event’s website for parade routes and event details.
Palatine: St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Irish Market. 11 A.M. A traditional parade, good food and an outstanding market make this location a great choice for North Siders.
St. Charles: St. Patrick’s Day Parade. 2 P.M. Charming St. Charles is right on the Fox River, a wonderful place for a parade. Historic St. Patrick’s church is there, too. Irish Dancers are on stage at the Arcada theater downtown at 10 AM.
Westmont: St. Patrick’s Day Parade/St. Paddy’s Day Fest . 11 AM. This event features Irish dancers, bagpipers and local bands. Green cotton candy is a buck. Corned beef and cabbage dinners, Guinness Beef Stew, even hotdogs will be available. The food is served under huge heated tents. Special feature: St. Baldrick’s Foundation hair-cutting event to raise funds for children with cancer.
Naperville South Side St. Patrick’s Day Parade. 10 A.M. This suburb has one of the larger parades with floats and bands. Special feature: a 5 K walk/run starts at 8 AM.
Gerald Watt was raised in Chicago (North side) and now enjoys life in the Village of Westmont. He is also Irish — at least one-half of him. He’ll be the guy in the green tie, eating a corned-beef sandwich.
www.St-Patricks-Day.com. Many municipalities in Chicagoland have St. Patrick’s Day Parades; most are listed at this site.
www.StBaldrich.org. Visit this site for details about this foundation’s fund-raising efforts to support research into cures for childhood cancer.