The Chicago South Side Irish Parade will be back this year, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel trusts that this time it will be a more 'respectful' affair.
The parade was canceled in 2009 when upward of 300,000 people showed up, a development that led to dozens of public order arrests, physical assaults on police officers and damage to local property.
Ironically it's an Irish American community leader who is canvassing not to bring back the parade. The money could be better spent on other projects he argues.
'I’m about to close Beverly-Morgan Park mental health facility a half-mile up the parade route,' Alderman Matt O’Shea the Sun-Times. 'I have a classroom at a school a few blocks from the parade route with 40 kids in it. We’re doing layoffs citywide. We’re [cutting back] library hours. If we’ve got $300,000 to put on a parade, I’d like to see it spent on some of those problems.'
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Mayor Emanuel sees the value in allowing Irish Americans to celebrate their heritage, though: 'That parade is a recognition to Irish Americans who call Chicago home. It is my hope that after a few years of hitting the pause button, people remember a way to celebrate their heritage, celebrate and be proud of it in a way that’s also respectful of the community and the neighborhood.'
According to a report in the Huffington Post local merchants have donated $80,000 to hire a private security firm, and police plan on checking bags for alcohol on the March 11 day of the parade.
'Safety is paramount to our plan,' parade committee chairman Joe Connelly told the Sun-Times. 'We are serious about having a zero-tolerance alcohol police, and that’s for everybody. Our intent is to have an alcohol-free parade."