By Patrick Mahanes ‘23
Everyone enjoys the South Side Irish Parade, but many have no idea how it started. My mom filled me in on a lot of the backstory because she grew up in St. Cajetan Parish and raised her kids there. A fairly new parade, the first South Side Irish Parade took place in 1979 on the 10900 blocks of Washtenaw and Talman Avenues.
Two neighbors, George Hendry and Pat Coakley, started the parade as just like a block party for the kids. The two neighbors missed the old south side parade, the Southtown Parade, that stopped in 1960 due to the parade downtown.
Myles Maloney said, “I am thankful for the founders of the parade because I have enjoyed the parade every year of my life. I see how special it is to the community, and I am thankful for the founders.¨
The two neighbors watched as the kids and the parade gained support and recognition. In 1980, the parade moved to Kennedy Park. Then in 1981, the parade made its move to Western and became a huge deal.
Jake Hannigan said, “I have lived on both sides of Western and have always enjoyed the parade. I think the amount of people that come out to celebrate Irish heritage is very special and unique to the community.¨
Being from St. Cajetan and living a block away from Western, I have always been close to the parade my whole life. It has always been a huge deal and is called the biggest community-based St. Patrick’s Day parade outside of Ireland by the organizers of the parade.
Sean Mahanes said, “I love the tradition of the parade and think it’s amazing how much it expanded from my parish, St. Cajetan.¨
Hopefully, the parade continues to thrive and be a staple in our community for years to come.