CHICAGO - After the cancelation of the South Side Irish Parade for the second year in a row due to COVID-19, organizers have come up with a new way to celebrate Irish pride and pump some badly needed money into businesses in the Beverly and Mount Greenwood neighborhoods.
South Side Irish Parade co-chair Tim McSweeney says organizers are taking inspiration from New Orleans, which is now holding a Mardi Gras-themed decoration contest in lieu of the canceled celebration.
Here in Chicago, they are calling it "Shamrock Our Blocks."
"Just like one would decorate their front lawn or front yard for Christmas, we’re going to do the same thing for what would’ve been the South Side Irish Parade," McSweeney said.
For $20, you can go online and get a "Shamrock Our Blocks" yard sign, or submit a picture of your house or block decorated to the max for St. Patrick’s Day.
"So the sky’s the limit. Use your imagination," McSweeney said.
But that’s only part of the campaign. The money collected from the contest, hopefully thousands of dollars, will go to buy gift certificates from businesses in Beverly and Mount Greenwood.
"It’s not just one day. It’s almost like the month of March is a season for us. So absolutely financially devastating to everyone around us," said Mary Callaghan of Barney Callaghan’s Pub.
Barney Callaghan’s is one of dozens of businesses that depend on the parade to keep the doors open. Those gift certificates for "Shamrock Our Blocks" will not make up for the loss of parade income, but they will help.
"I think they’re being very creative and thoughtful and we really appreciate them trying to make an effort to give us some life," Callaghan said.