Aye, it’s been one tough winter and it seems as if the wind chills might always be whipping at our backs. But it’s almost St. Patrick’s Day. And despite the snow drifts and interminably dismal weather, the show must go on.
Elmhurst and Forest Park actually kicked off their festivities the weekend of March 7-8. Can’t say how Elmhurst’s day went but Forest Park was certainly hopping. Granted, it wasn’t as bustling as the 2012 affair which saw parade goers reveling in near 80-degree temperatures. But the stalwarts and standard bearers were out in full force nonetheless.
With more than 15 bars along an approximate 6 block stretch of Madison, there’s a spot for everyone. Many return to the same perch year after year to grab a piece of prime parade-watching real estate. O’Sullivan’s and Shanahan’s anchor the end of the route while Muggsy’s and Molly Malone’s are mainstays at the parade’s kickoff.
The two establishments couldn’t be more different. With its Irish theme and menu offerings, Molly Malone’s has long been the “go to” restaurant for bridal showers, high school reunions and family-oriented celebrations such as St. Patrick’s Day.
Meanwhile as the renegade next door neighbor, Muggsy’s drew a rowdier crowd on St. Patrick’s Day---all who seemed to relish ducking back into a warm and comfy bar after catching some of the action. On parade day in Forest Park, it’s OK to have “to go” cups in hand as you head outside.
Unlike Molly Malone’s, Muggsy’s is more of a shot and a beer type of tavern without much in the way of food on tap. But that changes on the real St. Patrick’s Day when the bar breaks out free corned beef and cabbage for patrons. Again, that happens on Monday, March 17 at 7640 W. Madison in Forest Park.
Before that, there’s plenty of St. Patrick’s Day action on all sides of town and all weekend long. The annual dyeing of the river takes place prior to the downtown parade on Saturday, March 15. But even that could prove to be problematic after the winter we’ve been having. But not too worry. The Plumber’s Union are the main players in the downtown parade and say that they will simply ride right over the ice to keep the tradition alive.
The river dyeing takes place on Saturday, March 15 at 10am. It can be viewed from the east side of the Michigan Avenue bridge, the west side of Columbus Drive or around Wacker Drive. After this, it’s a quick jaunt to Balbo and Columbus to catch the parade.
On Sunday, Chicago’s Beverly area gets its collective Irish up as the South Side parade steps out at noon beginning at 103rd and Western Avenues. Starting as a small neighborhood parade in 1979, the South Side parade gained notoriety in the later years as an extremely raucous and sometimes destructive affair, with busloads of rowdies from all sides of town coming along for the ride.
After uncountable alcohol-related busts and crowd control issues, the parade was discontinued in 2010. However, it returned to its family-related roots in 2012 with a zero tolerance policy. But there’s no doubt that the many taverns up and down Western Avenue will be welcoming patrons and St. Patrick’s Day celebrants with open arms.