South Side Irish Parade Celebrates Irish Heritage

The South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be held Sun., Mar. 12 stepping off from 103rd and Western at noon and marching south to 115th Street. According to organizers, the parade is the largest neighborhood-based St. Patrick’s Day Parade outside of Ireland.

The Les Turner ALS Foundation will serve as the Grand Marshal for the 2017 edition of the parade. The nonprofit organization has been Chicago’s leader in research, patient care and education about Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) for 40 years.

Christmas Without Cancer has been named this year’s Honoree. The nonprofit organization provides gifts and basic necessities to Chicagoland families in need that have been stricken with cancer.

“We are proud to honor the Les Turner ALS Foundation as the Grand Marshal of our parade,” said Jeannie Kovak, South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade co-chair. “The organization brings hope and help to individuals and their families suffering from ALS by providing services such as in-home consultations and equipment loans and supporting the Les Turner Research and Patient Center at Northwestern Medicine. The Foundation serves the vast majority of people with ALS across Chicagoland including many Beverly area families.”

ALS is a rapidly progressive disease that causes muscle weakness, difficulty speaking and swallowing and, generally, complete paralysis. The Les Turner ALS Foundation, one of the nation’s largest, independent ALS organizations, is dedicated to the advance of scientific research, treatment and prevention of ALS, providing people living with ALS clinical care and support services, and increasing ALS awareness and education.

Marching with the Grand Marshal will be Beverly/Morgan Park families affected by ALS, including Meg Rooney and her family who have worked closely with Les Turner ALS Foundation to increase awareness about ALS and raise money to find a cure. Rooney’s husband, John Rooney, succumbed to ALS in June 2016 and John’s mother and aunt also died of the disease.

“Our family is honored to march alongside the Grand Marshal,” Rooney said. “The Les Turner ALS Foundation became an invaluable member of our family as we faced the diagnosis and realities of the disease, always offering practical advice, necessary equipment and services supporting not only to John but our entire family.”

John Rooney was an award-winning reporter with the Chicago Daily Bulletin and the City News Bureau of Chicago.

Since 2003, Christmas Without Cancer has identified families battling cancer, providing them with gift cards for groceries, medications, gas and assistance with rent, mortgage or tuition payments to help bring cheer during the Christmas season. The organization was founded by a nurse at Advocate Christ Medical Center who wanted to do something positive for some of the many families she served. Over the years Christmas Without Cancer has expanded their impact and now offers year-round support to families facing cancer.

The South Side Irish Parade features the South Side Irish Parade Queen and court, bands, dancers, floats, families, leprechauns and more, celebrating faith and families.

Just before the parade, the Emerald Isle Mile one-mile run on the parade route will begin at 11:30 a.m. at 104th and Western Avenue and runs the parade route ending at 112th and Western Avenue. For more information, contact Running Excels, 773-629-8587 or http://www.runningexcels.com/.

South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade merchandise including pint glasses, stemless wine glasses and toasting glasses is available for purchase. Families or businesses looking for a unique way to celebrate their Irish heritage may purchase customized street pole banners that line the parade route and into the neighborhood. Visit southsideirishparade.org for more information Parade apparel is available at South Side Irish Imports, 3446 W. 111th St.

The parade is operated by the South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization. More than 60 volunteers work to ensure this family-friendly celebration continues for future generations.

The event is supported by sponsors including Lakeshore Beverage, CJ Wilson Mazda, AARP, The Beverly Review, South Side Irish Imports, Team Hochberg at PERL Mortgage, IUOE Local 150, AAA Evergreen Park Car Care, Raising Cane’s, County Fair Foods and IUOE Local 399.

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