A guide to celebrating in Chicago

If you live in the Chicago area, the luck of the Irish is on your side. According to the personal finance service, Wallethub, Chicago was ranked the best U.S. city to celebrate 2019’s St. Patrick’s Day. The service compared the 200 largest cities in the U.S., examining 17 key metrics, ranging from the number of Irish pubs and restaurants per capita, to the lowest hotel prices, to the weather forecast on St. Patrick’s Day, in order to find the best places to wear green this year.

One of the world’s most famous St. Patrick’s Day traditions is the dyeing of the Chicago River. On Saturday, March 16, 40 pounds of dye will be used to turn the Chicago River green. It has been a tradition since 1962, and even still today, thousands of spectators come at 9 a.m. to watch this process and take pictures.

The annual Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade will also occur downtown Saturday — one of the largest in the country. Starting at noon on Columbus Drive, the parade will travel from Balbo to Monroe Street.

“St. Patrick’s Day is a very important day for me,” said Thomas Byrne, whose family is Irish-American. “When I was young, my mom would paint little green footprints around the house leading to a basket of golden chocolate coins that a ‘leprechaun’ had left out for us. This was essentially our rendition of the Easter bunny that I always enjoyed as a kid.”

When I was young, my mom would paint little green footprints around the house leading to a basket of golden chocolate coins that a ‘leprechaun’ had left for us.This was essentially our rendition of the Easter bunny that I always enjoyed as a kid.

— Thomas Byrnes, Irish-American DePaul student

Since Byrne came to DePaul, he has celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with his friends instead of his family. For the past three years, Byrne has also gone to the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago to experience the music, dancing, food, and history of Irish culture.

The St. Patrick’s Day festival at the Irish American Heritage Center is a fun way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with your family and friends. It is a family-oriented event, featuring traditional and contemporary Irish music and dance, food and drinks for purchase, children’s activities, and even vendors selling Irish gifts.

“We have been hosting St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations for more than 30 years,” said Kathy O’Neill, public relations manager for the Irish American Heritage Center. “We get about 5,000 people for our St. Patrick’s Fest on the downtown parade day, and about 1,500 on March 17, if it is during the week. This year, it is a Sunday and we expect more. For us, it is a great way to showcase a bit of what we do all year long through activities in dance, music, food and culture.”

If for any reason you miss the parade on Saturday, you can always head to another one on Sunday afternoon. A long-time tradition, the South Side Irish Parade is a family-friendly celebration of Irish heritage. It is the largest neighborhood based St. Patrick’s Day parade outside of Ireland. Occurring in the Beverly neighborhood, the parade begins at noon and goes from 103rd Street down Western Avenue to 115th Street.

“This year’s South Side Irish Parade will be led by Grand Marshal, Honor Flight Chicago,” said Greg Kovak, Co-Chair of the South Side Irish Parade Committee. “The parade will also feature Special Honoree, Choose Kind. The organization is dedicated to promoting kindness and raising awareness about Apert syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the proper development of the skull, hands, and feet.”

Usually, the parade contains 100 entries and draws between 150,000 to 200,000 participants and spectators. On Sunday, March 17, the parade will feature 15 bagpipe and marching bands, Irish dance schools, the original baby buggy parade float from the first South Side Irish Parade in 1979 with live Irish music, local parishes, Irish family floats and much more.

In addition to all the activities, if you’re looking to get a taste of Ireland, there are plenty of restaurants in Chicago offering St. Patrick’s Day specials. There is currently a special pop-up restaurant at River Roast – J. Hogan’s Pub. There’s a special menu of Irish pub food and drinks, which includes Guinness-battered fish and chips, Guinness beef stew, corned beef and cabbage and lamb shepherd’s pie, in addition to Guinness and shots of Irish whiskey.

Another place, located just one block away from the Chicago River, State and Lake Chicago Tavern. It offers a variety of Irish food, such as the Tavern Reuben and Lamb and Guinness Stew. As well as special drinks as Green Bud Light Can, Jameson Shot, and Guinness Can.

If you have a sweet tooth, Krispy Kreme will turn its donuts green for St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Following this trend, Dunkin’ will introduce their own special green donut for the celebration – a Mint Brownie Donut. It is a mint chocolate-flavored cake donut stuffed with mint brownie batter and topped with crumbled brownie. Not to mention, the famous McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes, made with creamy vanilla and a minty syrup, have already sauntered into town. Arby’s Mint Chocolate Shake is another major seasonal favorite for the brand — it’s a bright green in color with white vanilla swirls, topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle.

St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated in America since the 18th century, and with more than 31 million people in the U.S. claiming Irish ancestry, the celebrations have gotten more extravagant as the country’s population of Irish descendants has increased. According to a Wallethub study, Americans are expected to spend 5.6 billion dollars on the St. Patrick’s Day this year. It looks like green means more than luck and Irish tradition with this year’s celebrations.

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