South Side Irish parade ready for $40K city bill

Tribune reporter

City officials have sent South Side Irish Parade organizers an invoice for city services, setting the stage for the festivities to be relaunched in the Beverly neighborhood after a two-year hiatus.

Parade chairman Joseph Connelly said the $40,000 bill they received from the city Friday to cover the cost of things like trash clean-up, street sweeping and the installation of barricades is well within organizers' budget.

"All along, we've seen this as a formality and have been preparing to move forward with the parade," Connelly said.

Once the parade committee cuts the check and the city issues a formal permit, the parade will be set to step off Sunday, March 11.

Connelly expects about 70 groups will participate in the march along Western Avenue, with the usual contingent of school marching bands and politicians.

But he wouldn't predict how many people will turn up to watch after the parade had to be canceled due to widespread drunken fighting among revelers in 2009.

"We had 300,000 in 2009, but our feelings wouldn't be hurt if 50,000 people showed up (this year)," Connelly said. "We'd be satisfied with any size crowd, as long as it's well-behaved and represents the values of the neighborhood."

Chicago police officials still want to hold a community meeting prior to the parade, which Connelly said might take place this Sunday.

"We're still finalizing that," he said Friday afternoon.

Parade organizers have promised a "zero tolerance" stance against on-street drinking near the parade route, with check points where security personnel will check people's bags to make sure they aren't carrying alcohol.

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