I have been to this parade quite a few times. The last time was a couple of years ago. I have not gone since. St. Patrick's day has fallen on the week of Spring break for College kids more often than not. The last couple of times I was at this parade, it was worse than Halloween when I was down at college. The only exception is the green costumes instead of others. This is not a family, or kid friendly event anymore. This year 54 people were arrested, and only 7 were Chicago residents, one arrested person was as far away as Arkansas. 11 police were assaulted. This parade is in a neighborhood. One of the neighborhoods is Beverly, which is the "Gold Coast" area of the South Side, and I can hardly believe they put up with this for so long.
The other neighborhoods; Morgan Park, and Mt. Greenwood are full of Chicago Police and Firemen, who also would not want this in their neighborhoods.
I have witnessed the intoxicated, rowdy college kids in big herds, drinking out of cups (certainly not non-alcoholic beverages), using language and behavior you would not want young children to see. I have seen the makeshift relief stations in alley's and behind parked cars.
True, college kids are looking for a party when they are off on Spring Break and can't afford the usual party destinations for break, but this has been their biggest cheap Spring break party events.
There are many bars and liquor stores along the parade path. One liquor store owner said he makes close to $30,000 on that day alone. Yes, there are a lot of business owners who will miss the huge income of liquor sales that this event brings.
But I do feel for the residents, a lot of them I know personally. I know a lot of them have a lot of garbage to pick up during and after the event, mostly beer cans all over their property. Many have found piles too big for any dog to produce in their alleys, along with the stench from liquid waste.
For many residents who live within a few blocks of this event this has not become a fun event to look forward to, rather to brace for now.
I think that if it weren't for the fact that this coincides with Colleges Spring breaks, that this might be more of a family friendly event, like the Bud Billiken parade when the college students have already gone to school.
I also think there were more incidents than normal because the downtown St. Patrick's day parade was the day before and this was just an extention of that party. This could of brought a lot of people in since Chicago had St. Patrick's day for the whole weekend, I can't remember the last time that happened. Many years the downtown parade on Columbis was the weekend before or after the South Side parade, maybe that is why the arrests were lower?
At least downtown, there are not bars directly on the parade route on Columbus. Maybe this helps? But there certainly are enough college kids at this event, obviously intoxicated, but maybe because there are more police? The Columbus day parade expects a big outcome, maybe the South Side parade did not think it the audience would grow so much?
Maybe an Easter Parade? The Bud Billiken is still safe for children, the College kids are back to college then. The Thanksgiving parade is tame, but usually it is way too cold to stay too long afterwards, or even beforehand. The committee for this parade is looking for another event, I am sure it will be when college kids are back at school.
South Side St Patrick's day Parade endsOne woman wrote that our newspaper's photographs inaccurately portrayed the parade as being a family-friendly happy event. She described watching a young man and woman having sexual intercourse on a side street.
I confess, if our photographers missed that shot, shame on them.
In any event, the woman said she yelled at the youngsters to "find a room." They looked at her but never stopped fornicating.
"Sounds like people were having a really good time," I replied.
The woman, a local resident, didn't see it that way.
I've been hearing complaints about the parade for years from people in the Beverly, Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood communities.
People can be seen drinking in the streets out of bottles, cans and Big Gulp paper cups. People urinate in the alleys and on lawns. Drunks swear at passers-by, make rude comments to neighborhood women and sometimes get into fights.
I heard all of this because the former editorial page editor for this newspaper, who had the office next to mine for years, lived in Beverly. He hated the parade. Or at least, he hated the people who came to see the parade.