By Susan Flood, BAPA Executive Director
It’s that time again in our Village in the City! Time to pull the bulky sweaters out of mothballs, take inventory of whether you own anything green, and start sprucing up the house for the company.
St. Patrick’s Day is our chance to continue a tradition that has our community has enjoyed for decades, the South Side Irish Parade. A day when neighbors’ doors open in hospitality and families venture out together, strollers leading the way, to connect with friends, neighbors and guests along Western Avenue.
It’s true, the story includes the fact that not everyone has been happy on parade day. There was a time when the parade got too much attention from visitors who came in organized droves and created an atmosphere of out–of–control public misbehavior. The parade committee responded by cancelling the parade to break the spell and doing the hard work necessary to put together a plan to return our family–friendly day to us.
The task of producing parade that truly works for our community requires time, money and effort. For parade volunteers, our local police department, our bars on Western Avenue and our civic leadership, it’s a time for all hands on deck. I feel lucky that there are people who are so dedicated to my neighborhood. I think it’s rare.
The first time I saw the parade was also the first time I saw Beverly/Morgan Park, now my home for nearly three decades. I share this experience with more transplanted residents than I can count. What I saw at that first visit to Beverly/Morgan Park is what I still see today: A neighborhood that feels like a small town, where you walk down streets with doors opened in hospitality and where you’re greeted by name over and over. Let’s face it, who doesn’t love it when everyone knows your name? Not everybody is Irish, but for one day, the neighborhood adopts the warmth and persistent hospitality that the Irish are known for.
Parade day is a chance to show off our Village in the City for what truly makes us special. It’s really about so much more than Irish last names. It’s our respect for history and dedication to honoring it, our highly educated and diverse population of residents, the hardworking small business owners and our thriving arts community. On parade day let’s show ‘em who we are. My friend Bill Gainer said it best when the parade was on hiatus and I asked if he thought it would come back. “I sure hope so Suze, who doesn’t love a parade?”