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Thousands expected for St. Pat's parade, 'happiest day' in Elmhurst

Published: Thursday, March 6, 2014 5:26 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:33 a.m. CDT
Caption
Shannon Rovers Pipe Band makes its way down Spring Street during last year's St. Patrick's Day parade. Sarah Minor file photo - sminor@shawmedia.com
Caption
Trinity Irish dancers perform during last year's St. Patrick's Day Parade in Elmhurst. Sarah Minor file photo - sminor@shawmedia.com

ELMHURST – For the 18th year, Elmhurst will hold its annual St. Patrick's Day Parade down Spring Road on Saturday.

"We did it before anyone else thought of it," Parade Committee Chairman Jim O'Connor said.

An Elmhurst native, O'Connor remembers the first parade had no budget at all. This year the committee raised $40,000 to cover all costs from entertainment to clean up for the event expected to attract 2,500 people.

The parade itself kicks off at noon Saturday at Wilson and Spring roads and continues north on Spring Road to The Silverado Grill. More than 130 entrants, including dancers, politicians, bands and floats, will march by spectators for about an hour and a half.

Attendees are encouraged to arrive early. Beginning at 11 a.m., bands and entertainment will open the festivities along Spring Road at Ahlgrim Funeral Home, Vallette Street, The Illinois Prairie Path and McKinley Avenue.

O'Connor said he sees his role as chairman as his way of serving the community, which he thinks everyone should do. Even though planning for the next parade begins a week after this year's parade, O'Connor doesn't mind the time commitment.

"I run the happiest day in town," he said.

Grand Marshal

This year's Grand Marshal is state Sen. and Republican gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard.

"He's been a great supporter of our community," O'Connor said.

The committee chooses the Grand Marshal each year. Last year, the District 205 Board of Education was named Grand Marshal, and Elmhurst nonprofit Kick off for Kids took the 2012 spot. O'Connor said the parade has had a few politicians chosen for the honor in the past.

Weather worries?

While the National Weather Service has forecast a chance of snow Saturday, O'Connor doesn't doubt Spring Road will still be a sea of green.

"It's going to feel tropical," said O'Connor of the predicted high temperature near 31.

O'Connor said his favorite part of the whole event is seeing everyone come to watch the parade with their families. Every year, he sets up a few dozen chairs at 6 a.m. on parade day for his own family, which he calls O'Connor Row.

Some snow and cold won't stop the event that's been a year in the making.

"For the parade to stop, it would take a hurricane," O'Connor said.

– – –

If you go

What: Elmhurst St. Patrick's Day Parade

Where: Spring Road from Wilson Road to The Silverado Grill

When: Saturday; entertainment starts at 11 a.m. and parade begins at noon

More info: www.elmhurststpatsparade.com

– – –

Music

• Antioch Brass Quintet

• City of Chicago Pipe Band

• Elmhurst Armpit Orchestra

• Glenshinnoch Pipe Band

• Medinah Highlanders

• Music Performing Arts Drumline

• Pipes & Drums of the Chicago Highlanders

• Proviso West Marching Band

• Shannon Rovers

• The Royal Airs Drum & Bugle Corps

• Wandering Shamrocks Harmonica Band

• World’s Largest Drum

– – –

Dancers

• Mayer School of Irish Dance

• Mulhern School of Irish Dance

• Mullane Healy Godley Irish Dance Academy

• Trinity Irish Dancers

• Yorketts Dancing Group

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