The South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade is more than a one-day event.
The excitement builds after the grand marshal and special honoree are announced about a month beforehand and only grows with a pre-parade fundraiser a few weeks later.
A week before the parade, however, is when anticipation crests, and that was evident this year, culminating in a fun, festive parade.
With Honor Flight Chicago serving as grand marshal and Choose Kind as the special honoree, the community celebrated two humanitarian efforts that are inspirational.
Veterans who have taken an Honor Flight were all smiles as they rode down Western Avenue, and Mary Cate Lynch, the amazing kid behind the Choose Kind campaign, was perched on the shoulders of her father, Chris Lynch, waving to spectators. Her mother, Kerry, wanted other children like Mary Cate, who has Apert syndrome, a rare craniofacial syndrome, to receive a standing ovation, and they got just that the moment they started the parade.
Eight days before the parade, St. John Fisher (SJF) Elementary School hosted its first St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser, with hundreds of people packed into the gymnasium watching dozens of kids have their heads shaved to raise funds in the fight against pediatric cancer. Many other schools and organizations host St. Baldrick’s events around St. Patrick’s Day, and they are proof that young people are ready and willing to do good—and to choose kind.
According to the parade committee, about 200,000 people attended the parade, and no arrests were reported. Unfortunately, reports of racist propaganda being posted along the route surfaced the day after the parade. The stickers on lightpoles have been condemned by local officials and are being investigated.
Beverly is better known as the neighborhood where Choose Kind was born, inspiring the Choose Kind Chicago campaign in October 2015. It should also be known as the place that rallies around kids battling cancer, as evidenced by a large sign reading “Beau’s Battle Buddies” on the fence of the tennis courts at Beverly Park. It’s a message of support for 3-year-old Beau Dowling, one of the children celebrated at the St. Baldrick’s fundraiser at SJF.
Clear, sunny skies were the icing on the cake for another great parade day. But not even bad weather—or hateful propaganda—can take away from the kindness that this community so frequently chooses.