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Rahm On South Side Irish Parade: Máirseáil!

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 18, 2012 11:15PM

Image Credit: Ron Reason

It's said that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day. Apparently that also extends to Chicago's first Jewish Mayor. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the City granted a parade permit to the South Side Irish Parade Committee because he's certain Beverly residents can celebrate their Irish heritage sober.

So are we. It's the buses and trains of people flocking to Beverly with whom we have our doubts, Your Honor.

The mayor told assembled media after today's City Council meeting.

“That parade is a recognition to Irish Americans who call Chicago home. It is my hope that after a few years of hitting the pause button, people remember a way to celebrate their heritage, celebrate and be proud of it in a way that’s also respectful of the community and the neighborhood.

“It’s been a two-year pause, we’ll give them a chance to do that.”

And if this year's parade is like the recent vintages that tabled the event three years ago?

“I’m not gonna answer a hypothetical,” the mayor said. “I have all the confidence that they now know people are gonna watch that parade [and] that they will do it in a way that’s respectful to the neighbors and the neighborhood hosting it to celebrate a rich heritage and the diversity and the fabric of our city. They’ll celebrate it in a way that gives honor to Irish-Americans.”

19th Ward Ald. Matt O'Shea said that he, the parade committee and local business owners will work to enforce that "zero tolerance" policy, but he's not hopeful.O'Shea also pointed out the fiscal realities he and other aldermen are facing and questioned whether the parade should take precedence.

“We spent over $300,000 trying to make that parade a go in 2009 and it wasn’t,” O’Shea said, noting that over 642 police officers and 102 traffic management aides were detailed to the last parade, but they still couldn’t keep order.

“I’m about to close Beverly-Morgan Park mental health facility a half-mile up the parade route. I have a classroom at a school a few blocks from the parade route with 40 kids in it. We’re doing layoffs citywide. We’re [cutting back] library hours. If we’ve got $300,000 to put on a parade, I’d like to see it spent on some of those problems.”