CHICAGO - So many people hoped it would not come to this, but it appears Chicago will miss out on another South Side Irish Parade this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
For the second year in a row, the South Side Irish Parade has been canceled. Organizers say safety first, but that is not stopping the disappointment felt by the community.
Manager and bartender at Franconello Marcia McGann-Hatzell has fond memories of marching in the parade -- on and off for about 25 years.
"It was like Christmas for the South Side," she said.
Marcia says she was heartbroken to hear about the cancelation for a second year in a row.
"I have 8 kids, so I'd like my kids to grow up, you know, to grow up with their kids doing it," she said.
Parade organizers says due to continued public health concerns of COVID-19, the city of Chicago has announced it will not be issuing any permits for parades or large gatherings in the first quarter of 2021 and therefore the parade will not run its usual march down western avenue.
"We're heartbroken, but we will persevere," said South Side Irish Parade Committee Chairperson Tim McSweeney.
The parade committee says it is exploring other ways of celebrating Irish heritage this year, but nothing is certain yet.
Restaurants along the parade route, like Americanos, already struggling because of COVID, say this is yet another hit to business.
"We need people to come and visit us and come see us in order for us to be able to keep going," said Americanos co-owner Cynthia Castillo.
But parade lovers like Marcia have high hopes for next year, as parade organizers have already set a date of March 13, 2022.
"We will be there!" she said.
As for Chicago’s big celebration downtown, the city will only say that traditional St. Patrick’s Day parades will not take place this year and that they are working to identify other ways to celebrate.
The city has not said what that means for the downtown parade or dying of the river.