It's never too early to start thinking about the South Side Irish Parade, and with the official halfway point on the horizon the preparations are gearing up.
The parade committee will hold a fundraiser next weekend to both raise money for the parade effort and get locals excited about the big day. The Sept. 15 event at Bourbon Street will feature food, games and live music with the proceeds going toward covering the parade costs.
"We wanted to build up excitement and community engagement toward the parade all-year round," said parade chariman Joe Connolly.
Last year saw the parade return from a brief hiatus with a greater focus on family and a tougher stance on alcohol.
"We were thrilled with the quality of the parade last year," Connolly said. "It was definitely very family oriented, very safe and with little to no public drinking."
This year's parade will increase entries, but the committee still plans on keeping things smaller than the parade's biggest years. Last year about 65 entries marched down Western Avenue, and in March 2013 that number might be around 85 to 90, Connolly said.
The parade then would clock in a bit under two hours, a far cry from previous years where three hours was the norm.
A new component will also be added this year. A one mile race down Western Avenue dubbed the Emerald Isle Mile will start at 11 a.m. on March 10, 2013 and the parade will follow at noon.
"We thought it would be great to get the crowd out and run down Western Avenue and do something family oriented," Connolly said.
The committe still plans to keep a tight hold on security and implement the same zero tolerance approach as last year. Connolly stressed the important role community volunteers play in the parade's success.
"We really rely on the generosity of the neighborhood, not only financially but also from a volunteerism perspective," he said.
Halfway to the South Side Irish Parade Party
- When: Saturday, Sept. 15 from 2 p.m. - 7 p.m.
- Where: Bourbon Street, 3559 W. 115th Street
- Cost: $30
- Details: Includes grande buffet, unlimited beer, wine or soda. Part goers can enjoy Raffles, chance games and a performance by Irish band Larkin and Moran Brothers