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St. Charles

Emerald city

St. Charles turns Irish with parade, events

The city toasts the St. Patrick's Day weekend with a host of themed activities and the annual St. Patrick's parade. Read about everything on tap for the holiday weekend in the newPlanitKane.

ST. CHARLES - No matter the weather – rain or snow, sunshine or overcast – St. Charles is gearing up for its another festive St. Patrick Day celebration.

The annual parade, one of the largest in the suburbs, will tip off at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 16 and march down Main St., from Sixth St. to Fourth Ave. It is expected to run about 90 minutes.

“St. Patrick’s Day is a season for us. We embrace it as soon as Valentine’s Day has passed,” said Shay Clarke, parade emcee for the third consecutive year. Clarke, a native Dubliner, is radio host of the weekly WDCB-90.9 FM program Blarney on the Air and general manager of McNally’s Traditional Pub.

Bands from St. Charles North and East High Schools as well as professional bagpipers from Tunes of Glory in Warrenville will perform. Another registered participant will be the Rosemont-based Classic Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps.

“We have about 75 entrants in the parade,” said Jamie Blair, marketing coordinator for the Downtown St. Charles Partnership, which is running this year’s event.
Blair said Megan Ervin, Miss Illinois; local Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts, and a number of political dignitaries also will march.

Rosie Martinez, who was instrumental in organizing the city’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade in 2000, again will serve as grand marshal.

For the second year in a row, local canines also will wear the green as they join the parade, competing in the Deck Out Your Lucky Dog contest for best-costumed pet. Dog owners may register their pooches online at or on the day of the event between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at a tent in front of city hall.

But the march down Main St. is hardly the only event of the holiday weekend.

Preceding the parade the public is invited to a 10 a.m. St. Patrick’s dance show at the Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., featuring members from dance studios in town and surrounding areas.

McNally’s will be taking over nearby space that once housed the now-closed RX Café. There, where it will operate cafeteria-style, selling corned beef and cabbage, sausage and chips and similar fare plus T-shirts and various Irish gift items – but no alcohol.

Come Sunday, Clarke has declared McNally’s, at 109 W. Main St., as the “official” St. Patrick’s Day headquarters.

“Sunday (March 17) will start with a Gaelic mass at 9 a.m. at McNally’s offered by Dublin-born Father Karl Langsdorf, director of St. Patrick’s Missionary Society of Chicago. Breakfast will follow, and then the popular O’Brien family band from St. Charles from will play traditional Irish music from 2-5 p.m.,” Clarke said.

McNally’s will offer a limited yet classic menu during the holiday weekend – Reuben rolls, bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie and the like. For every pint of Guinness stout consumed during the holiday, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the St. Charles Fire Department.

Pub visitors needn’t look for green beer, which Clarke describes as an American affectation. “Because we’re a traditional Irish pub, we do not like the whole ‘green beer’ thing,” he said, adding: “We’ll again be wearing T-shirts with the legend: ‘Green Beer My Arse.’”

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