Chicago's South Side Irish Parade is set to return to the city's Beverly neighborhood Sunday after a two-year hiatus.
And even though the parade is expected to be a booze-free, much more low-key affair than past parades, its earlier start time, 11 a.m. instead of noon, has drawn criticism from St. John Fisher Catholic Church, which is irked that it will need to either cancel or reschedule two masses because of the parade.
Rev. Bob Kyfes, St. John Fisher pastor, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the majority (of parishioners) are very upset" about the change and added that he wished the parade organizers would have followed the lead of the Gay Pride Parade organizers, who adjusted their plans after a Catholic Church along their 2012 parade route expressed concern.
Nevertheless, the parade organizers have pressed on. As the Chicago Tribune reports, they will be footing a $40,000 bill the city has presented them with, which covers matters such as trash cleanup and barricades. Further, about 1,000 private security officers and Chicago Police Department members will be keeping an eye out for open containers of alcohol at 46 route checkpoints along the parade route --which runs down Western Avenue between 103rd Street and 115th Street.
A crowd of some 150,000 revelers is expected, the Tribune reports -- much lower when compared to the 300,000 who have shown up in years past.
"We'd be satisfied with any size crowd, as long as it's well-behaved and represents the values of the neighborhood," parade chairman Joseph Connelly told the Tribune this week.
The popular parade dates back to 1979 but was cancelled by the city in 2009 after residents of the Southwest Side neighborhood complained about the hordes of drunk and unruly youths, while police did not appreciate a spike in assaults against officers.