This Year’s Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade

How it differs from previous years.


Courtesy of Chloe Mutter

Chloe Mutter, Staff Writer

For over one thousand years St. Patrick’s Day has been a day that the whole world celebrates. The Irish observe this day as a religious holiday and the rest of the world stands alongside them celebrating. Dressing up in green, watching Irish dancers and listening to Irish music as family and friends gather to watch parades and city traditions. 

Since 1843, the festivities in Chicago have been extremely popular, bringing together the whole city with the dying of the Chicago river and their St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The day’s celebrations have all lasted up until last year, when COVID-19 brought the whole city into lockdown, canceling everything down to the famous Chicago parade. Now, a year later, the city of Chicago’s council members have decided to cancel the annual St. Patrick’s day parade for a second year straight. 

After Governor Pritzker announced the cancellation of the parade back in 2020, people saw this as their last chance to get out and ignored the pleas of health experts. With permission from City Hall, restaurants and bars continued to host large groups and parties on March 17 clueless to the now known discovered effects of the coronavirus. 

“Chicago officials are determined not to let last year’s scene repeat, when revelers crowd bars to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, angering Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other elected officials worried about the spread of COVID-19.” Ashok Selvam said in an article for Eater Chicago. This worry for a repeated outcome has caused officials to cancel the parade again this year. 

With a year of experiencing COVID-19, the response from the public has been much less hostile since they have a better understanding of the results from the coronavirus. 

“It does sting a little bit. I think we all miss it, and I think the community misses it big time.” Elizabeth Murray-Belcaster, organizer of the Northwest Side Irish Parade, said in an article for WTTW.

The crowd of the 2019 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Chicago (Taken by Chloe Mutter)

Despite the restrictions on going out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, there are still options to celebrate the holiday among a smaller audience. Officials don’t advise people going out to celebrate in order to limit the amount of people attending restaurants and bars who have already reduced their maximum capacity abiding to the Executive Order which has been extended until April 3, 2021. 

With that being said, Governor Pritzker has also extended the hours of stores to 11pm, as well as bars and restaurants from 11pm to 1am with a 50% capacity limit. 

The Chicago River dying continued this year as a surprise to many Chicagoans this past Saturday. Prior to Saturday, it was unknown whether the river would be dyed. Officials said that, they were “working with organizers and communities to identify ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a safe manner that aligns with ongoing public health guidance,” the mayor’s office said, according to NBC Chicago News. 

Due to everything that has happened over the past year, with people all around the world experiencing new levels of tragedy and loss. The desire to restore old traditions have stayed quiet, as the price to pay for a more social experience is a lot higher than it was before.